For Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, it had to feel strange. He had never been injured or had any arm problems before. But as he pitched for Single-A Delmarva on July 25 in Rome, Ga., that changed.
"In my last start, it didn't really hurt, it just felt tight. It actually feels really good now," Harvey said. "No issues before that, felt pretty good all year. But I felt it four or five times throughout that start."
At that point, the Orioles were not going to take a chance with a 19-year-old top prospect. So Harvey came to Baltimore to see doctors and underwent an MRI. He has a flexor mass muscle strain and has been shut down for the rest of the minor league season.
"We might as well be safe than sorry," he said. "I would love to still be pitching, don't get me wrong. But it's their decision. They don't want me winding up with a serious injury, so I'd say it's a pretty good decision."
So no throwing at all for Harvey right now. Just some running to stay in shape. He's gone into rest and rehab mode.
Harvey said he has been told that no surgery will be necessary to resolve his issue.
"They said just rest and it will be good. Nothing too bad, just a strain," he said. "The good thing is nothing is torn. The doctors said I should be OK with a little rest. I'm really just more excited about getting next year going, really."
Is Harvey concerned that this could turn into something bigger? It would not be the first time a pitcher's injury that looked like it could be resolved with rest led to something more major.
"From what they are saying, they said there should not be any surgery, nothing like that," he said. "Coming in my first full year, I'm not used to throwing this much. This is probably a common thing. Really just got tired and strained a bit. They said everything else was good. Really not too concerned about it.
"It was good to know it wasn't my UCL or nothing was torn. No injury is a good injury, but I probably came out with the best thing I could have on that day. It could have been worse and luckily it wasn't."
Harvey is aware there may be some skeptical of that news. Is he convinced this will not lead to something bigger?
"Yeah, I'm pretty convinced," he said. "I'm sure they would have told me if there was a high concern. They're shutting me down to let this get better. I'm not really worried. Pretty positive I'm not going to have surgery. That is the really good news out of this - just rest and everything will be good. Nothing too bad, just a strain."
Harvey is the son of Bryan Harvey, the former big league closer.
"He's kind of upset I'm getting shut down, too. But he knows the reasons for it," Harvey said. "Looking toward the future and not right now. He's on board with it."
The right-hander ends his year going 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA for Delmarva. In 87 2/3 innings, he gave up 66 hits with 33 walks and 106 strikeouts. He gave up one earned run or less 10 times in 17 starts with a batting average against of .209.
When national analysts release their top 100 prospects lists over the winter, look for Harvey to be on all of them.
Harvey actually had his two worst outings in back-to-back starts in early June, when he gave up 12 runs. Take away those two and he would finish with a 2.22 ERA.
"Had a lot of fun, first full season," he said. "It's been an outstanding year. Played with a great group guys and everyone should have a great future on this team."
What did he learn in his first full pro season?
"Pretty much you can't throw a fastball past anyone anymore," Harvey said. "I learned that a couple times on some home runs. High school, I didn't have to mix it up too much. Here, you have to know how to pitch, mix it up good, command the fastball and all your pitches."
His season included getting the start in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and pitching in the All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota. He threw a scoreless inning for Team USA.
"That was unbelievable. Kind of getting a little taste of the big leagues really, being in that environment," Harvey said. "Think there was 37,000 people there. Pretty much getting treated like big leaguers for a couple of days. Kind of made me hungry, so just really want to keep pushing to get to that. It was awesome."