SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter won’t put an innings limit on Hunter Harvey, the former first-round pick who’s recovered from ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. No decision has been made on where he’ll be assigned.
Keeping Harvey healthy is job No. 1. The rest should take care of itself.
Watching Harvey throw his bullpen session today “brings a smile to my face,” Showalter said.
“Think about how far he’s come and the similarities with Dylan (Bundy). I think everybody’s excited. It’s one thing about potentially getting a good pitcher. It’s just another thing about the kid, the human being.”
The Orioles made Harvey the 22nd-overall pick in 2013 out of Bandys (N.C.) High School. He’s made only 13 starts the past two summers and missed the 2015 season before undergoing elbow surgery.
“We knew there was the potential for some issues when we drafted him. That’s why he was available where we picked,” Showalter said. “We knew it may come to that point, which it comes to with a lot of young pitchers coming out of high school. And it’s worth it to get a prospect like him at 23 years old. Basically, he’s one year out of college. And potential in today’s game, if those things do like they’re capable of, they’re actually better than they were before physically. So, exciting. And for him to have a normal offseason.
“I asked him, ‘How’s it feel to not have anyone asking how you’re feeling, how’s your elbow, how’s everything?’ He said, ‘It’s great.’ “
Harvey has gained 6 1/2 pounds since he left last year, but he also lowered his body fat. He just looks stronger, more solid, as he walks through the clubhouse each morning.
With his innings count peaking at 87 2/3 back in 2014, Harvey figures to make a gradual climb in whatever capacity he’s used this summer. But Showalter doesn’t want to put any restrictions on the kid in January and demands proof that one method works for everyone.
“Where’s the background that tells you that you have to be (careful)?” he asked. “It’s just something we’ve all conveniently said is what it is. You saw the caution we took with Dylan, but it’s what your eyes and your ears tell you. Because you can’t get anybody medically, or even trainers, to say, ‘Here’s exactly what you do.’ It’s too much of a moving target.
“I’ll see what happens. The hitters will tell us, he will tell us, more importantly. Because he’s come so far, he’s not going to do anything ... It’s like Dylan said, ‘Why wouldn’t I be frank?’ We’ll see where it takes us.”
Harvey lost his command and feel on the ball while throwing off the same mound and Showalter knew that surgery was the likely outcome.
“I asked him (today), ‘You still want to throw off that same mound?’ I thought he might go somewhere else,” Showalter said.
Brian Graham, the club’s director of player development, said the Orioles will determine later where to assign Harvey - assuming the right-hander won’t break camp with the team.
“The most important thing is where he finishes, but I do not know where he’s going to start,” Graham said. “That’s going to be a Buck decision, Roger (McDowell), Dan (Duquette). Everybody will have a say.
“He looks good, doesn’t he? He just looks good.”
The Orioles are expected to keep left-hander Tanner Scott in a starting role at Triple-A Norfolk, allowing him to build innings and further develop his secondary pitches. Lefty Alex Wells, the organization’s minor league Pitcher of the Year, will move up one level to high Single-A Frederick.
Cody Sedlock, the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2016 who twice went on Frederick’s disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain and a strained right forearm, will be invited to the early minor league camp on Feb. 18. He wasn’t included on the minicamp roster.
“He’s doing good,” Showalter said. “The whole idea was just leave him alone. I didn’t want him to come here and feel like he had to push.”
The Orioles are deciding whether to invite left-hander Luis Gonzalez to major league camp after he pitched last summer at Single-A Frederick. He could benefit from the experience, just as left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez did when the Orioles put his locker between Pedro Strop and Miguel González.
Showalter said he talked to Chris Tillman earlier today. The free agent right-hander continues to work out at the complex.
* The Orioles re-signed outfielder D’Arby Myers to a minor league deal a couple of days ago.
Myers, 29, was at Twin Lakes Park last spring before the Orioles released him. Spending a second summer in the independent Atlantic League, Myers batted .337/.369/.446 with 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 43 RBIs in 96 games with the Bridgeport Bluefish. He also stole 31 bases in 39 attempts.
Myers hasn’t played for an affiliate since 2015 at Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels’ system. The Phillies drafted him in the fourth round in 2006 out of Westchester (Cal.) High School.