MILWAUKEE -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched from the Brewers' starting lineup Wednesday with mid-back stiffness, but said the move was just a precaution.
Hardy tweaked his back while stretching in the weight room hours before the game, but took batting practice with no issues and figured to start Milwaukee's series finale against the Reds. When he stiffened up about 30 minutes before game time, Hardy decided to sit.
"[Brewers manager Ken] Mache came up to me before batting practice and said it would be better to shut it down early than to play three innings and say you can't go any more," Hardy said. "I probably could have played, but the last thing I wanted to do was [upset] Macha."
Craig Counsell started in Hardy's place, but the change wasn't noticed in the press box until Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson popped out to shortstop for the second out of the first inning.
Counsell, not Hardy, made that catch, and the team announced moments later that Counsell was batting second in the lineup. Right fielder Corey Hart dropped from second in the order to fifth.
That the switch went unnoticed at first was not altogether surprising. All Brewers players and coaches wore No. 42 on Wednesday as part of Jackie Robinson Day festivities across Major League Baseball.
Hardy receives regular treatment for a stiff lower back, but it had not limited him at all this season. He had homered in each of his past two games and had driven in a run in four straight games despite hitting just .156 this season.
"Out of everybody, he's the one who has had some bad luck," Macha said. "So far this season, he's swung the bat pretty well."
Counsell blooped a single to center field in his first at-bat and later scored on Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly. Counsell nearly homered in his second plate appearance, a long fly out to right field, and finished 1-for-4.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.