8/13/2013 10:44 P.M. ET
Hardy happy for homecoming visit to Arizona
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- A native of Tucson, Ariz., J.J. Hardy is making a homecoming of sorts at Chase Field this week. With the southern Arizona city sitting about two hours from downtown Phoenix, many of Hardy's friends and family made the trip up to see the Orioles shortstop play in person.
So many in fact that Hardy joked he's "playing for free" this week because of the number of ticket requests he has received. With a group of 20 people in attendance for Tuesday's game, Hardy said he dropped close to $700 on seats.
"Yeah, I left a lot of tickets," he said, smiling. "It's worth it though."
Although it's a small sample size, playing in front of his loved ones appears to bring out the best in Hardy. In 12 career games at Chase Field entering Tuesday's game, the shortstop boasted a .420 average with 10 extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
Hardy, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Brewers, said that while he loves playing for the Orioles, he misses Spring Training in the Cactus League, where he could live at his offseason home in Chandler, Ariz., for a longer time.
"It's two extra months at home, it does make a difference and I love Arizona" he said. "I like Sarasota, you're on the water and it's a nice place, so it's not too bad, but I do miss it."
Asked if he's at least happy to escape the blazing summer heat in the desert, Hardy insisted that his new city feels warmer.
"Baltimore, I think, is the hottest place on Earth," he said. "With the humidity, it feels way hotter than it does here. Guys were walking around outside here and were saying, 'Man, it's hot.' And I'm just like, 'It's actually not too bad.' I kind of like this 105 degrees. I guess growing up here, it's different."
Roberts finding groove in second month back
PHOENIX -- After struggling at the plate in his first month back following a near-three-month rehab process for a hamstring injury, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has begun to turn things around in August.
The 35-year-old hit .213 in July, but in seven games and 20 at-bats this month entering Tuesday night's contest, he has an on-base percentage of .320 with three runs scored and five RBIs. Against the D-backs on Monday, Roberts went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs.
"I think Brian has been swinging the bat well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's getting more confident. He has a night like last night and you realize what you've been missing for all that time."
Showalter thought the birth of Roberts' first child on Friday might have contributed to his recent success, something the manager hopes will give the veteran more confidence moving forward.
"You can see his face, he's having a lot of fun," Showalter said. "He's happy being back here and playing. He's smiling a lot."
• On the shelf since July 29 with tightness in the flexor mass in his right arm, Jason Hammel will begin a throwing program Friday in Baltimore.
"He's feeling good," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter of Hammel, who received a cortisone injection last Friday. "He's getting better every day."
• Showalter said injured designated hitter Wilson Betemit will continue his rehab stint in Class A Frederick "for a while." Betemit has yet to play this season after suffering a right knee injury in Spring Training."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.