The Orioles didn’t announce today’s roster move until the media was out of the clubhouse, but there were rumblings about Hunter Harvey being at Camden Yards. And a fresh arm certainly made sense after another extra-inning game yesterday in New York.
It just happened to be attached to the top pitching prospect in the organization.
Harvey turned 23 in December and he hasn’t pitched beyond the low Single-A South Atlantic League, where he made 17 starts with Delmarva in 2014 and three last year. He missed the entire 2015 season and underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery in his right elbow in July 2016. But he impressed again in spring training, tempting the Orioles to break camp with him before they optioned him to Double-A Bowie, and he’ll be in their bullpen tonight.
“He provides the only really right-handed length that we’ve had at this point,” said manager Buck Showalter.
The 40-man roster includes right-handers David Hess, who started yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk and Yefry Ramirez, who pitched Friday. Not available. Jimmy Yacabonis was optioned on Sunday and couldn’t return today unless replacing an injured player. Gabriel Ynoa is on the disabled list.
Harvey’s inexperience - he’s thrown 18 2/3 regular season innings since his surgery - didn’t discourage the Orioles. Did they see enough of him in spring training, where he posted a 3.86 ERA in seven innings, to know that he’s ready?
“Probably not,” Showalter said. “We’re not going to put anybody ... physically he’s fine. It’s just that, if not him than who? We had some options, but you bring up a non-roster guy who’s out of options, you’re going to lose him going back out. There are a lot of variables there. But we think Hunter can serve a need here and potentially help him and the organization.
“It’s baseball. Baseball players play baseball. Pitchers pitch. Saw a lot of him in the spring, so we’re pretty familiar with him.”
Showalter won’t state publicly whether Harvey’s first taste of the majors will be brief. He’s not supplying a timeline.
“If I do, I’m not going to broadcast it to the guy who’s coming up,” Showalter said. “We’re trying to protect the health of all of our people, including Hunter. We’re trying to protect Dylan Bundy tonight. We’re trying to protect guys that can’t pitch in the bullpen tonight. We’re trying to protect them. It’s about a lot of different variables. We pushed the limits as far as we could go with every guy yesterday. I’m not going to do that tonight. I’m not going to do it again.”
If Harvey is, indeed, a temporary bullpen piece, Showalter doesn’t think it’s important to get the kid in a game before sending him back.
“I don’t think that matters,” Showalter said. “Understand why he’s here. He’s the one guy who can provide length for us tonight. You can’t assume anything. It’s just wrong for any of us to assume that Dylan isn’t going to get hit with a line drive off the kneecap or cuts a nail and can’t hold a ball.”
Showalter stressed that it’s not just about “need,” that Harvey also is “potentially a pretty good pitcher.” But the limited options among right-handers certainly were a factor.
“He’s very unassuming, respectful,” Showalter said. “This is a very good major league pitchers son (Bryan Harvey). He’s been around some locker rooms. He’s got the right amount of nervousness today. I don’t want to say it’s ‘refreshing,’ but we all kind of play through some of the young guy’s eyes and what they’re thinking.
“I love watching him move around today and seeing what’s going on with him, knowing full well he may not get in the game. I hope he doesn’t. I hope we don’t have that need, but you can’t go into today’s game without solving that. We’ve got a number of people in the bullpen today I will not use.
“I don’t think you can say for sure that this is what he’s going to do well here. I know what he’s done well in the past. He’s got a late-life fastball, curveball that’s an old-fashion 6-12 with a power curveball and changeup. He’s got a feel for it and he holds runners. He ain’t scared. Now, we’ll see if that plays up here. It did in other places. Do I wish he had more experience in Triple-A, Double-A and whatever? He had some outings in Twin Lakes. He’s physically ready, he’s ready to go.”
Left-hander Tanner Scott was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after throwing 20 pitches for the Tides on Friday and 32 with the Orioles yesterday over 1 2/3 innings.
“Obviously, the four days, especially the two extra-inning games, put some of our relievers in a place we don’t want to go today,” Showalter said. “Especially with Toronto being so right-handed.
“Tanner’s never pitched back-to-back anyway and he’s at least two days away from being available. And happy with the way he presented himself in the spring and here so far, so that’s good. Just a fallout of extra innings and having a short start. I’d have liked to have kept him. Our options weren’t many.
“I’m excited about Tanner. The spring he had. You can tell he’s not throwing quite as hard, but he’s locating a lot better. He can still go get it when he wants it.”
Normally, Alex Cobb news would dominate the day, but he’s been overshadowed a bit by Harvey’s promotion. It’s still important, though. Cobb will throw a bullpen session Wednesday at Bowie and start for the Orioles Saturday afternoon against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“If everything goes well,” Showalter warned.
Cobb should be fine. He threw six innings against the Twins today at extended spring training, allowing one earned run and two total, and he struck out eight batters. He’s up to 93 pitches. He sure seems ready.
“Alex said any fastball out of his hand, they were hacking,” Showalter said. “It was tough to get his pitch count up for a while.”
Mark Trumbo (quad) is expected to play at Bowie on Tuesday and Wednesday, assuming he gets a flight out of Sarasota tonight. He could stay with the Baysox as they head to Harrisburg over the weekend, play for another affiliate or join the Orioles.
“We’ll see what’s needed after that, where we are,” Showalter said.
“He feels good. He played first base today, so that’s good news. So, we’ll see where he is after those two days in Bowie. He feels good. He’s going from 80-something degrees to 40 degrees. I’m going to let him make the call. It could be all the way through the weekend for that matter. I don’t know. When he feels like he’s ready, we’ll bring him.
“He’s had some experience at this rehabs and I’m going to lean on him on it. Much like Alex.”