SARASOTA, Fla. - The good prospect news has extended from minicamp to spring training.
Bundy was shut down at Double-A Bowie with a sore right shoulder and in the Arizona Fall League with right forearm tightness. Harvey was shut down at Single-A Delmarva in 2014 with a strained right flexor mass, sustained a fractured fibula last spring after being hit by a comebacker in Fort Myers and was shut down for the season with a strained right flexor mass.
They’re the top prospects in the organization. The Orioles are keeping fingers crossed that their shoulders and forearms and elbows and legs stay healthy.
Bundy, who underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow in 2013, is out of options and ticketed for the bullpen. He’s throwing bullpen sessions after being restricted to the half mound at minicamp, and he’s encouraged by his progress.
“Arm’s healthy. Feel good, physical’s done, ready to go,” said Bundy, 23, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
“I can pretty much do whatever I need to.”
That includes ignoring his arm, if not the persistent questions about it.
“It’s nice to actually go out there and work on pitches and not have to worry about my arm and get out there and compete,” Bundy said.
When asked when was the last time he felt like this, Bundy replied, “I felt normal out in Arizona, up until this last start and felt a little twinge, but I felt good in the fall league when I come back.”
Bundy has been a career starter, though his only two major league appearances came in relief in 2012. The mindset must be adjusted.
“For this year, I guess you can say I’m getting into that mentality right now,” Bundy said.
“You don’t have five days in between, hopefully. As a bullpen guy, you never know when you’re going to get in the game. You’ve got more adrenaline, you’ve got to be able to control the adrenaline, you’ve got to throw an off-speed pitch first pitch of the outing that you come out. Just stuff like that.”
Patience has challenged Bundy during his physical setbacks.
“Every time you get hurt, you want to get back sooner and better, but you can’t rush these things,” he said. “I’ve learned that over the past four, five years now.”
The education of being a reliever will continue this spring. Bundy’s locker is next to Brad Brach’s, but he’s also got plenty of other veterans to mentor him.
“Oh, yeah, we’ve got guys in this bullpen who have been in this bullpen for a while now,” he said. “They know a lot. They’ve got a lot of major league experience, so yeah, I’ll be picking their brains all spring.”
And discovering how the Orioles are going to use him, whether it’s for an inning or as a potential long man.
“I don’t know,” he said. “They just told me I’m going to get plenty of mound time out there. I’m sure that means I’m going to be on the mound a lot.”
The ultimate goal for Bundy is to be a starter again, just as the Orioles envision. However, he’s got no complaints this spring. He’s healthy and in big league camp. Life is good.
“Any spot in the major leagues is a good spot,” he said.
Harvey, 21, was the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft. He hasn’t pitched since July 2014. It’s time to get the career started again.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been throwing since December and I haven’t had any pain, so I’m excited to get back going. Everything is full-go.
“You’ve just got to take care of yourself. Long year. How I got hurt the first time was, it just happened. You can’t really avoid that. The arm and stuff, you’ve just got to take care of it and try to keep going.”
Asked to describe the past year, Harvey replied, “It was long. A lot of sitting down here and rehabbing. We’re trying to avoid that this year and see if we can stay healthy for a full year now.”
Harvey hadn’t gone this long without throwing. No adjustment made on the mound could match this one.
“That was the longest ever,” he said. “That’s the first time I’ve really been hurt, so frustrating a little bit.”
What must Harvey do to take better care of his arm?
“Just stay in shape really,” he said. “I can’t really say that’s why I got hurt. I think I might have come back just a little fast. I took it too easy when I was coming back, then tried to come back on the mound and full-blast it. Just got to be a little bit smarter on that when I’m coming back.”
During his time in Sarasota, Harvey talked to Orioles minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker about the value of being patient in his recovery and comeback.
“When I was coming back, I was kind of easy on it because of my (shin). Then I got on the mound and I was blasting it out,” Harvey said. “I went 100 percent. Building up to that point, I need to get it going a little bit longer with my long toss and stuff like that.”
The Orioles may choose to start Harvey at high Single-A Frederick rather than Delmarva. The decision is pending. Right now, they care more about avoiding another setback.
“I hope so,” he said. “I’m just trying to get out of spring training this year. Wherever they put me, it will work.”
Note: A rumor surfaced last night that Camden Yards would stop serving Natty Boh this season. It’s false, according to a team official. I’m not sure why this was such a big deal, but if you actually like that beer, drink responsibly. And reconsider your choice of beers. #StepUpYourGame