Here are some thoughts from new everyday Oriole shortstop J.J. Hardy about a myriad of topics. Hope you enjoy and a special thanks to Franklin Sports and Kevin McCarthy from Cirillo World PR for providing the blog with the quotes and the Q&A.
I don't know if you've heard of this, about Rob McElhenney from “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” have people told you that you look like him? I've heard, yes. Actually, first time I heard it was when Chad Moeller comes up to me and says, “Hey, do you watch this “Always Sunny in Philadelphia?” I go, “No,” and he goes, “Oh, never mind.” And I go, “Why?” and he goes, “Well, there's someone who looks identical to you.” And then I looked it up and then if you look up his name there will be pictures of me next to him. I kind of see it; I feel like my parents and everyone else I've pointed it out, they don't see it. But, I saw it.
What is your favorite park to hit in? I think the best success I've had is in Arizona. I don't know if that's because that's where I'm from, but I feel like whenever we go there the hitter's eye is great, the lighting is great and the hot air in Arizona, the ball flies I think.
What are some things you like to do when you're not playing ball? I've got a lot of little hobbies. Fishing – now that we're out here in Florida for Spring Training, I fish pretty much every single day when we're done here. In the off-season I spend a lot of time playing Ping Pong, try to keep my game up there. Not as much golf anymore, I used to golf quite a bit. Kind of shot that down, now more Ping Pong and fishing.
How did you get to become a Ping Pong player? My dad was a professional tennis player, and he still teaches for a living, and we grew up around it and I have a brother who is about 17 months older than I am, we played Ping Pong growing up and it was a sport that we kind of clicked at, and having someone as good as I was at it, and me as good as he was, kind of kept us getting better. I take a lot of pride in my Ping Pong.
Who was your favorite player growing up, and who did you look up to? This is going to seem like it's a coincidence because I'm with the Orioles now but my favorite player was Cal Ripken Jr. I just loved the way he played, I loved the fact that he was out there every single day and the fact that he was a little bit bigger, back in the day that there weren't as many big shortstops, it made me feel like I had a chance to be a shortstop, being a little bit taller.
What are your thoughts on joining your new team, the Orioles? So far so good. On the first day of camp, all of the guys seemed great, pretty excited to get out there and start playing some games and I think we're going to surprise some people this year.