Baseball spring training starts Tuesday, and for former Edmonds-Woodway High School star Blaine Hardy, that means a new team and new opportunities — but the same approach.
Have confidence and take advantage of the chances you have.
“It’s how I’ve built my career,” said Hardy, a 2005 graduate of EWHS who is starting his 12th season as a professional baseball player, and his first season as a member of the Minnesota Twins organization. “I don’t throw that hard but I try to make the best of my opportunities,” the lefty pitcher said. And I don’t dwell on things. When something is done, it’s done.”
That’s important for a major league pitcher, who can’t afford to dwell on giving up a home run when there’s another batter to get out. And it’s something that helps Hardy as he moves into a new challenge.
Hardy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2008 out of Lewis-Clark State College and he spent five years in the minor leagues before being released and signing with the Detroit Tigers. He made his major league debut on June 16, 2014 and spent the next five seasons with the Tigers. In that time, he won 14 games with a 3.73 earned run average in 233 games, primarily as a relief pitcher. But his 2019 season was derailed when soreness in his pitching shoulder didn’t go away and was later found to be a small tear in the flexor tendon, leading to surgery. He missed the final two months of the season.
“You get aches and pains throughout the season,” he said. “I didn’t think anything of it and thought it was just sore because I wasn’t seeing a decrease in my velocity.”
The Tigers, a team like the Seattle Mariners that is rebuilding with younger players, opted not to bring back Hardy, who turns 33 in March. While Hardy rehabbed his elbow, his agent went to work finding a new team and the Twins showed immediate interest. That was welcome news as Blaine, his wife Nicky and 14-month-old son Griffin live in Minnesota.
“As much as I loved being in Detroit, I saw it coming a mile out,” Hardy said. “Being hurt, and them rebuilding, you’re always a little optimistic but I kind of felt like there was no chance they would bring me back. I’m excited for this new opportunity.”
Hardy spent most of the offseason getting his arm back in shape, first in Minnesota and then in the warmer climate of Arizona. In mid-January he and his family headed to Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins hold spring training. Hardy isn’t guaranteed a spot on the big league team, and arriving early helped him build relationships with his new organization.
Hardy has made yearly trips back to Seattle when the Tigers have played the Mariners and hopes to again this year. The Twins make their only appearance at T-Mobile Park early, March 30-April 1. He also returns to Edmonds every couple years to visit his mom. This past offseason he was in town talking to a group of youth baseball players about his career. What did he learn growing up in Edmonds that he passes on to kids?
“I’ve always been very competitive,” he said. “And the biggest thing is confidence. Even if you don’t have your best stuff, confidence can carry you beyond your limits. Don’t second-guess yourself. Even if you’re not at your best, confidence is one of those things that you can always have.”
And now with a new season about to get underway, Hardy and his confidence are ready to take on his new opportunities.
— By Mike Allende
Edmonds writer Mike Allende will be checking in with Blaine Hardy throughout the upcoming baseball season for a series about the life of a professional athlete. Have questions for Blaine? Send them our way and we’ll try to get an answer!