MILWAUKEE -- Breathe a sigh of relief, Brewers fans: Shortstop J.J. Hardy was in the Brewers' lineup for Friday's series opener against the Cubs. Rumors swirled all day that Hardy had seriously injured his hand during Thursday night's celebration of Ryan Braun's walk-off grand slam. Hardy did "tweak" his left thumb during the on-field scrum, but was briefly checked out Thursday night, and was slotted into the No. 5 spot as usual on Friday against Chicago's Ryan Dempster. "I don't know why it was a big deal," Hardy said. "I came out of the pile thinking, 'This is weird, what's wrong with my thumb?' I went into the trainer's room, got it checked out to make sure it was nothing, and it was nothing."
Hardy was amused that his supposed injury sparked such concern around Milwaukee. It was the most discussed non-injury of the season. "I don't know how it even got out," Hardy said. "My dad texted me this morning saying, 'Did you hurt your thumb?' I replied, 'Not really.' It's nothing." Hardy took some swings Friday afternoon to confirm he could hit. He did not need to take grounders to know he could field. Acting Brewers manager Dale Sveum said he wondered how the story circulated. "Be careful what you say to people on a bar stool," he said. "He's fine. It was never an issue. ... It wasn't a big deal at all, but obviously it got blown out of proportion." Hardy entered the game with four home runs this month, trailing only Prince Fielder, who has hit six. The Brewers entered the day tied with the Mets atop the National League Wild Card standings with only three games to play. An injury to Hardy would have been yet another bizarre moment for a team that has already been through a few of them this month. The Brewers lost a sizable Wild Card lead, and then on the same night in Philadelphia, watched the Cubs no-hit the Astros in their own Miller Park. Manager Ned Yost was dismissed the next morning, and two days after that, co-ace Ben Sheets went down with a right elbow injury. Hardy learned his lesson about celebrations when he was "13 or 14 years old in pony league." He hit his first walk-off home run and then leaped in the air into a crowd of teammates at home plate, just like the big leaguers did. Hardy landed on a teammates' foot and sprained his ankle. "I was out for two weeks," Hardy said. "I try to stay away from that stuff." He was on the outside of the scrum on Thursday. Braun was right in the middle, which was somewhat alarming considering he is nursing a back injury. The Brewers hope to have one more celebration before the end of the weekend. They'll need the Mets to fall back for that to happen. "I think every time that happens, it's a possible disaster," Hardy said. "It's not like we're just kind of tapping each other. I try to stay on the outside of the pile. There's no way I'm getting in the middle of that."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.