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Jon Krawczynski and Chris Jenkins, Published November 07 2009

Twins ship Gomez to Brewers for shortstop Hardy

MINNEAPOLIS – The Milwaukee Brewers finally gave J.J. Hardy the change of scenery he had been expecting and reunited the unhappy shortstop with an old friend in the process.

The Brewers traded Hardy to the Minnesota Twins on Friday for speedy outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Hardy winds up with the Twins’ All-Star catcher, Joe Mauer, a teammate on the U.S. national teams in 2000 and 2003. The two still chat regularly when they see each other, and Hardy said the move could help him move on from a forgettable season.

The 27-year-old Hardy batted a career-low .229 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs in 115 games for the Brewers in 2009. He was demoted to Triple-A in August.

“I definitely knew I was going to get traded once I got sent down,” Hardy said. “Once I got the call this morning, I was pretty excited about it.”

The Twins think a fresh start can help Hardy regain the form that made him one of the league’s most promising young shortstops. A 2007 All-Star, he is just the third shortstop in Brewers’ history to hit more than 20 home runs in a season twice, along with Robin Yount and Jose Hernandez.

“It’s one of those seasons for me that I completely don’t want to think about it anymore. I was happy when it ended,” Hardy said.

He has a career batting average of .262 with 75 home runs and 265 RBI in 571 games.

“He’s got a strong arm. He’s got good range and he’s got power,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said.

Hardy will replace free agent-to-be Orlando Cabrera, a midseason acquisition who helped the Twins edge Detroit for the AL Central title. But Cabrera just turned 35 and is not a long-term solution.

Hardy spent 20 days in the minors, costing him a year of service time and therefore delaying his eligibility for free agency until after the 2011 season.

Gomez, who turns 24 in December, batted .229 in 137 games last season.

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