Hunter Harvey: "I couldn't wait to get back to a ballfield"

Hunter Harvey was craving the chance to work a complete season out of the Orioles bullpen. A schedule consisting of 162 games. With the removal of signs suggesting that the team proceed with caution.

Just as past injuries have been out of Harvey's control, so too is a pandemic that leaves teams with only 60 games and a slew of adjustments to the roster and rules.

What hasn't changed is Harvey's mullet, unless the top of the grading scale has gone from spectacular to ultra-spectacular. He takes the compliments with a smile, the most recent coming from yesterday's Zoom conference call with the media - a pandemic can't touch his hair - but he's serious about wanting to become an established major league pitcher.

Sixty or 162 games. Whatever. Just hand him the ball.

Harvey-Looks-Up-White-Sidebar.jpg"Even if it wouldn't have been cut short, I was ready to go a full season," he said. "I was taking this year and going right at it. Just getting after it. A 60-game season just makes it a little bit easier on them not having to draw something up for me, especially with my past and all the injuries.

"It's kind of, I don't want to say it was a great thing, but it's almost like a blessing in disguise a little bit just to kind of ease into this role and make it a little bit easier. It kind of helped in some sense."

Harvey made his debut last summer and appeared in seven games, allowing one run and striking out 11 batters in 6 1/3 innings. He accumulated 82 innings total, including games with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, and didn't pitch after Sept. 13.

Manager Brandon Hyde didn't use Harvey on back-to-back nights. That's likely to change in 2020. High-leverage situations could pull him from the bullpen, whether in save situations or just to preserve a lead or tie.

Harvey faced the same challenges as the other pitchers on the staff following the shutdown. He had to keep his arm in shape and stick to a program laid out for him after making four appearances in exhibition games and allowing two runs with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

Hyde noted how Harvey's fastball was 95-98 mph in a live batting practice session and also complimented the slider and splitter. Harvey brought everything last night to the intrasquad game, including the bag of baseballs that pitchers are required to tote from the bullpen to the mound, and retired all three batters faced with a strikeout.

"I couldn't wait to get back to a ballfield," Harvey said. "I was actually kind of going a little crazy sitting at home, just playing catch and throwing bullpens. So to be back at the field and get going again, it's really exciting and it's fun to be back with everybody.

"When it got canceled at the end of spring I was kind of upset, kind of mad. It was the first year I finally had a full, healthy season and I was going into this season fully healthy and hopefully breaking with the team or just breaking in general and going north with the team. And for that to get cut off and shut down, it really stunk and it kind of makes you mad. But I just had to stay ready and keep going and just waiting for this moment to start back up."

Harvey has supreme confidence in all three pitches. It isn't just about the heat.

Asked to assess his slider and splitter, Harvey didn't miss a beat while replying, "I wouldn't say anything's wrong with them."

"I was throwing a bunch during the quarantine break and I don't feel like I ever got behind," he said. "If anything, I stayed ahead of the curve, so I would say it's all game-ready."

Guys in the bullpen are a close-knit bunch and Harvey blends in despite a hairstyle that gets most of the attention. They can't do the usual bonding during COVID-19, but they'll find ways to connect, encourage and push each other.

"Everybody's trying to get used to all the new stuff we've got to do this year, but it's kind of the same as always," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys and a lot of guys who want to prove they can pitch here, so we've all got a little fire burning. We're competing with each other. A lot of big arms in the bullpen. So we're really just trying to get to the same goal, get on the field and see what our young bullpen can do.

"We're excited to see what happens."

Martinez details plan for first week of intrasquad...
Orioles' first intrasquad game features home runs ...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to