When Hunter Harvey first felt what he described as a cramp in his right forearm during Wednesday night’s relief appearance, he knew he now faced a serious dilemma. Should he let the Nationals know he might be hurt, or should he try to pitch through it, knowing he was quickly establishing himself as one of the more trusted members of Davey Martinez’s bullpen only two weeks after joining the club?
Throughout his career with the Orioles, Harvey tended to keep these things to himself. That got him nowhere, aside from the injured list, usually for months at a time.
This time, he decided to speak up immediately. And though he’s now on the 10-day IL with a right pronator strain, he believes the stint will be brief because it’s being addressed now and not later.
“I’ve had too many times where I’ve felt stuff like this that I told them: ‘I think I can pitch with it; I don’t think it would be a problem,’ ” Harvey said. “But I’ve pitched with stuff like this before, and I’ll start doing something different trying to protect it and then I’ll end up blowing something out.”
Martinez certainly appreciated Harvey’s willingness to be forthcoming with his injury, an approach plenty of players in his position wouldn’t take.
“You know what that’s called? Maturity,” the manager said. “If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. We have people here who can help you get better sooner than later. He was glad that he said something. And he’s very hopeful that it’s nothing major and he can come back and help us as soon as possible, which would be great.”
Indeed, Harvey believes he could be back throwing again within a matter of days, potentially allowing this IL stint to be on the short end of the equation.
“Nobody’s too concerned, so that’s the good thing,” he said. “Docs looked at everything, and should be good (in) a couple days. Let it rest for a minute, and then get back going.”
Acquired off waivers from the Giants late in spring training, Harvey didn’t have enough time to build his arm up to make the opening day roster. But after a few appearances for Triple-A Rochester, he was the Nationals’ first bullpen call-up when Mason Thompson landed on the IL with biceps tendinitis.
Harvey wound up making four appearances without allowing a run before suffering his injury, along the way earning Martinez’s trust to start pitching in high-leverage situations.
It made for a nice story, given Harvey’s lengthy injury history. The Orioles’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft, he has made only 30 big league appearances since his debut in 2019, with Tommy John surgery in 2016 among the disrupting factors.
Asked today if he’s ever dealt with something like this current strain to the pronator muscle near his right elbow, Harvey smiled and replied: “Yeah, I’m afraid so.”
“In the past, I’ve tried to pitch through it, and normally it turns worse,” he said. “So just tried a different tactic this time, tried to jump on it early and get it out of there.”
The Nationals hope that mature approach pays off in the long run.
“I’m glad he spoke up,” Martinez said. “With his past history, if he would’ve tried to pitch with that and something really bad happened and we found out he felt it before, for me that’s upsetting. I don’t want these guys to ever feel like they can’t speak up.”