Hardy injured his left shoulder trying to make a play up the middle near the end of spring training. He played three rehabilitation games for Double-A Bowie and was relieved Thursday night to see his name in the No. 7 spot in the Orioles' batting order.
"It was a lot longer than I expected, maybe longer than some people expected," Hardy said. "It's good to have it in the rearview mirror and move forward."
Hardy was 4 for 12 with a double and three RBIs for Bowie.
To make room on the roster, Baltimore placed shortstop Everth Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left foot. He was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Mets.
Hardy won his third straight Gold Glove after last season and signed a $40 million, three-year contract that includes an option for a fourth season that could become guaranteed.
The Orioles have had to cobble together a infield this season because, along with Hardy, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and utility man Ryan Flaherty also are on the DL. Flaherty is eligible to return Friday.
"We've missed him," manager Buck Showalter said. "We missed the presence as much, ball security, just the fundamentals."
Also, catcher Matt Wieters caught seven innings at extended spring training after a day off from catching. Showalter said he is doing well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery but has experienced normal soreness in the arm associated with his rehab.