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Updated: March 3rd, 2011 8:06pm
Live from Florida, Day 15: Hardy 'a little nervous' to face old team

Live from Florida, Day 15: Hardy 'a little nervous' to face old team

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Thursday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Today's result

Twins 2, Orioles 0

Carl Pavano threw 27 pitches over three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Glen Perkins and Jim Hoey each pitched two scoreless innings apiece, although each of them allowed three baserunners.
Luke Hughes, playing third base, went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI single.

Catching up with ... J.J. Hardy

The Twins ran into a familiar face Thursday at the newly-renovated Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

Former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy -- who was traded to the Orioles in December, along with Brendan Harris, for right-handers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson -- exchanged pleasantries with manager Ron Gardenhire and other former teammates and coaches prior to Thursday's game.

"I was a little nervous coming to the park," Hardy said before the game. "This will be my first time playing against an old team. Last year I was on the DL both times going back to Milwaukee, but it's good."

Hardy, who went 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout Thursday, said he initially had no idea last October that there was a chance he might not be back in Minnesota.

"When I started cleaning out my locker, I didn't think so," he said. "I thought I was coming back for sure, and all the questions that day started coming. I was like, 'Oh (expletive), I might not be coming back.' Until that day, I thought I would be coming back."

As it turned out, the Twins weren't willing to commit $5-6 million dollars in arbitration to a player who has had trouble staying healthy -- even though his bat, when in the lineup, was one of the better middle-infield bats in the American League.

"The way I'm taking it is that the payroll thing was the main reason," Hardy said. "I felt like we got along, everything was good. So there was no hard feelings on my part. Then again, I don't know how they feel about it, but that's just how I feel."

Hardy added, "I loved it. I got along with everyone. It was fun, it was an awesome ballpark. Everything was really nice. The staff was awesome. It was hard leaving, but obviously I didn't have a choice."

Gardenhire had nothing but praise for Hardy, who was one of the more mellow, likeable guys in the Twins clubhouse last season.

"I like J.J.," Gardenhire said. "When he was out there playing -- he had a few injuries here and there -- but when he was out there playing he was very good. Very consistent, caught the balls he was supposed to catch and all those things. We talked about more speed in our lineup.

"You also know he made $5 million last year and that was probably going to go up. The same thing with (Orlando Hudson) at second base. We kind of had that feeling it wasn't going to work out and we were going to have to ad lib."

Hardy is set to join a potent Baltimore lineup that includes Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott. He reported to camp fully healthy, but not without a minor scare in early January.

"I told a couple of these guys that the first week or so that I started swinging this offseason, there was still some pain in my wrist, and I was like, 'You've got to be (expletive) me,' thinking that it was still in there," Hardy said, "but it just kind of went away and I haven't felt anything since."

And that's going to be the key with the 28-year-old Hardy -- staying healthy.

Numbers game

3: The number of American reporters surrounding Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the Twins clubhouse after Thursday's game.

12: The number of Japanese reporters surrounding Nishioka.

Health watch

• OF Delmon Young (toe) play in his first spring training game on Saturday in Port Charlotte, according to Gardenhire.

• LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) will see his first spring-training action on Friday morning in a 'B' game against the Rays. Liriano appears to be back on schedule after missing some time in February with shoulder tendinitis.

Is the manager apprehensive at all about Liriano's health?

"Apprehension, always, coming off a little shoulder tendinitis," Gardenhire said. "But he says he feels great."

Overheard

"It might be something positive I could bring, but it could be something on the minus side. But I'll do my best to bring whatever I have right now in order to help the team."
-- Nishioka, through a translator, on what he brings to the No. 2 slot in the batting order. Nishioka has kept a humble demeanor throughout spring training so far, not wanting to draw too many high expectations to himself.

On deck

The Twins return home on Friday to face the Rays. Right-hander Kevin Slowey is scheduled to pitch.

Liriano will pitch in a 'B' game at 10:00 a.m. on one of the side fields.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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