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03/25/08 7:58 PM ET

Hardy cleared, hopes to play in opener

Shortstop goes five innings after getting OK from doctor

PHOENIX -- Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy finally got his diagnosis. Then he finally got to play.

Now, barring a setback, it appears Hardy will be healthy and ready to start on Opening Day.

Hardy was diagnosed Tuesday with a bacterial infection by Dr. Carlton Richie and was cleared to play a Minor League game at Maryvale Baseball Park. He played five innings in the field and went 1-for-5 at the plate with a single and two strikeouts.

By sending him to the Minors game, the Brewers reserved the right to backdate an assignment on the disabled list, though that appears unlikely at this point.

"It will be touch and go," general manager Doug Melvin said. "But I think there is more of a chance of him being able to go."

Hardy has not played in a Major League game since March 17, just before coming down with what the Brewers originally believed was a bout of the flu. But the illness lingered and Hardy lost 10 pounds, so he was sent for a battery of medical tests. Richie told Hardy that he had ruled out the two most serious potential diagnoses.

"It was like a six-day thing that made me lose 10 pounds, but besides that I'm fine," Hardy joked. "I feel much better now."

Manager Ned Yost said Hardy would play again on Wednesday in Minor Legaue camp, then could play in the big league game Thursday against the Cubs. After that game, the team is scheduled to travel to Milwaukee for a pair of weekend exhibitions against the Royals.

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"He gets the advantage of having five or six at-bats [in Minor League games]," Yost said. "If he can get 12 at-bats in two days, he can get caught right back up."

In other injury news, right-hander Yovani Gallardo pitched in the Minor League game, his second outing since knee surgery last month, and allowed only one hit and no runs in three innings. Gallardo, who threw 44 pitches, will start the season on the disabled list and likely needs at least three more starts before he's cleared to join the Brewers.

Meanwhile, left-hander Chris Capuano left Arizona for Birmingham, Ala., and has a consultation scheduled for Wednesday with Dr. James Andrews. Capuano has a torn ligament in his elbow and likely faces the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Andrews performed the first in 2002.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.