It took a special set of circumstances to get Hunter Harvey to the majors.
The Orioles needed to play games covering 14 and 12 innings over the weekend. The bullpen had to account for 20 2/3 innings. The next opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, had to carry a roster heavy in right-handed hitters. And the list of available right-handed pitchers on the Orioles’ 40-man roster had to be limited.
It also helped that Harvey is a top pitching prospect who already tempted the Orioles in spring training. If they thought he’d be grossly overmatched or overwhelmed, he wouldn’t be in their bullpen.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Harvey said after last night’s 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays. “It’s something I’ve been working for my whole life, whole career, so to finally happen, it was fun.”
I’m expecting it to be a temporary assignment. The Orioles won’t continue to go with an eight-man bullpen. They may not feel the need for a right-handed long man after hitting the road again and playing a four-game series in Boston.
Harvey already seems comfortable in this type of environment. It’s in his blood as the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey. He’s been to Orioles minicamps and spring training. Andrew Cashner already has taken a strong liking to him. All of the veterans seem to feel that way.
The kid blends. And not like Joe Pesci in “My Cousin Vinny.” He really does blend.
Harvey is confident, but also quiet. There’s nothing about him to suggest that he feels entitled or has an excessively high opinion of himself. And he deserves all the credit in the world for politely fielding every question about his past injuries, the Tommy John surgery and all of the setbacks, without losing patience or his mind.
* Fans clamoring for the Orioles to put Chris Davis on the disabled list need to remember that, as far as we know, he isn’t hurt. Though frayed nerves might make it onto the injury report.
Don’t suggest that he doesn’t care and he’s just happy to collect his millions. That’s always been such a dumb observation. The failure to live up to his franchise-record contract weighs heavily on him and seems to be compounding the problem.
I don’t expect too many fans to feel sorry for him. We should all carry the burden of living up to a $161 million contract. But saying he doesn’t care and suggesting that he sits at home lighting cigars with $100 bills is nonsense.
Davis slammed his helmet to the ground with both hands last night after grounding into a double play to end the third inning. He shattered his bat over his right knee after striking out in the sixth. These were the most visible signs of his frustration.
“He’s not different,” said manager Buck Showalter. “It just happened to be out there where you could see it. If you could see the other seven or eight guys up the runway. That just happened to be where people could see it.”
Why he isn’t bunting more or trying to slap the ball to the vacated left side is beyond me. If it seemed like a good idea over the winter, it’s become an absolute necessity now. Anything to get on base, get a few hits under his belt and maybe bust out. Maybe not. We’ll never know if he doesn’t try it.
Davis did square up three times in his final at-bat, taking a ball and a strike before bunting back to the mound. Maybe this is why he’s reluctant. It’s not like he’s Rod Carew. Bunting might not be in the guy’s skill set. He wouldn’t be alone in that club.
* You’re not going to see Davis batting leadoff again, and there’s no reason to mess with Trey Mancini, who collected three more hits and a walk last night.
Mancini is 14-for-36 (.389) in the leadoff spot in his brief career, including seven starts. Just leave him there.
I’ll reconsider if Cedric Mullins shows up later this summer.
* Cashner took some big steps away from his three-homer debut with the Orioles by holding the Yankees to one run and two hits over six innings. The run came on Aaron Judge’s homer in the sixth.
Cashner has made two career starts against the Blue Jays and allowed four runs over 13 innings. Curtis Granderson is 3-for-11 with a double and home run against him.
Aaron Sanchez has logged two starts for the Jays this season and allowed seven runs and 14 hits with six walks in 11 2/3 innings. He’s 5-3 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.540 WHIP in 15 career games (10 starts) against the Orioles and 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.552 WHIP in seven games (five starts) at Camden Yards.
Jonathan Schoop is 9-for-22 (.409) with a home run against Sanchez. Davis is 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles, four home runs, 10 walks and seven strikeouts.
Adam Jones is 3-for-26 (.115) with a double and home run, Manny Machado is 6-for-30 (.200) with two doubles, Pedro Álvarez is 2-for-12 (.167) with a home run and five strikeouts and Caleb Joseph is 1-for-11 (.091) with a double.