If it ain’t broke ...
Mancini was smiling as he said it, a touch of sarcasm sprinkled in after Harvey locked him up during live batting practice.
“He looked really good,” Mancini said following the Orioles penultimate workout before Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Twins. “Everything was working well for him. He kept the ball down the whole time and located.
“That splitter is the pitch. It’s a major league pitch right there. I know health’s been the name of the game for Hunter, but we’ve all seen it whenever he’s healthy. He’s a special talent out there and his stuff will play in the major leagues. That’s a fact.”
The Orioles stretched out Harvey to two rounds and around 35 pitches after limiting him to one round in his first session.
“I wanted to let him know to keep working and throwing stuff like that and he’ll be up,” Mancini said.
Teammates share Harvey’s frustration over the myriad of injuries that keep stalling a promising career. Only 24, Harvey has undergone ligament-reconstructive surgery in his elbow and sports hernia surgery, and sustained a fractured shin after being hit by a comebacker and a shoulder injury while trying to avoid a line drive heading toward the dugout at Double-A Bowie. Soreness in his elbow/forearm area also kept him from pitching.
“Our 2014 Delmarva team, especially in that first half when I was there, Hunter was our ace,” Mancini said. “We had a really good team, a really close team, and we saw his potential. All of us.
“There was one game when he and (Lucas) Giolito faced each other. It was like a 0-0 game until the 13th inning. They each pitched seven shutout innings. Even then we saw flashes of what he can be. He’s a first-round pick and he’s got incredible stuff.
“If he keeps working and stays healthy, he’s got a great career ahead of him.”
Harvey threw 16 pitches in the first round, careful to pace himself after rushing a bit in his first session. Cody Roberts, the Orioles’ 11th-round pick last year out of the University of North Carolina, came over from minor league camp to catch him. Mancini and Austin Wynns took their cuts.
The audience behind the cage included executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, manager Brandon Hyde and pitching coach Doug Brocail, who kept circling to the other fields.
“That was impressive,” Hyde said. “Healthy. That’s the No. 1 thing, but yeah, his stuff was electric. There was a lot of chatter around the cage about his stuff. Off to a great start with him. But the main thing is his health. He came off the mound feeling great and real positive, for sure.”
* Elias spends most of the workouts on the fields instead of his office.
“I think it means a lot,” Hyde said. “We’re all evaluating, right? And he’s the biggest one. I think it just sends a message that we care about our players.
“He’s still out there watching batting practice right now. He’s very, very hands-on, which is fantastic. He wants to get a good look at our players before games start.”
The Elias-Hyde partnership is off to a promising start.
“Through the interview process I felt it right away,” Hyde said. “I felt that we thought along the same lines in a lot of things, and it’s definitely been true as we’ve gone forward. He’s really easy to talk to. It’s a good relationship. We’re really honest and we talk a lot about our team and how things are going, and I’ve just been really impressed with his way, the way he handles things. He’s really good with the players.
“We’ve had individual meetings with most of our guys, and he’s been in the majority of them and he’s fantastic in those. It’s been really, really good so far.”
* The workout today included a four-man relay drill on Field 2, with baseballs used instead of batons.
“It’s something that we’ve been doing for a while,” Hyde said. “It’s like one of your first-week drills. And we’ve been harping so much on our defense and catching the ball and understanding the importance of hitting a guy in the chest. It’s one of those drills you do in your baseball camp back when you’re 10 years old, but I’m a big believer in the fundamentals and a big believer in breaking it down to make it basic but also fun at the same time.
“That drill eventually over camp kind of accelerates into, we play for some dinners, we have teams, we knock each other out, we have a stopwatch, we have coaches involved. It becomes a fun thing for the camp, but it’s really showing everybody how important it is to play the game of catch, which is what this game is ultimately about.
“Just a simple thing like playing a really good game of catch with some tempo, moving your feet, hitting the cutoff guy, first guy being able to give the guy an opportunity to relay the ball where he wants to because you’re giving him a good feed. All those types of things win you ballgames.”
Jonathan Villar is staying in the middle of the infield, giving the Orioles options at second base and shortstop.
“He’s been mainly at second base so far, but as camp goes along he’ll start mixing in at shortstop also, as well as the shortstop guys mixing over at second base,” Hyde said. “Like I said before, the versatility is really, really important. You never know what’s going to happen.”
* Hyde isn’t ready to offer specifics on the composition of his bullpen, including how many relievers will head north. He’s got plenty of left-handers to choose from while determining the number he wants to carry.
“I think you definitely want to have some balance for sure,” he said. “You want to be able to give yourself the best chance to match up on a nightly basis against the teams you’re playing against, so being heavy one way or the other probably isn’t ideal. But we’re going to pick the best guys and how it fits in our bullpen, no matter if it’s right-handed or left-handed. All those things kind of factor into the equation.”
* Also throwing live batting practice today were Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy, Sean Gilmartin, Luis Ortiz, Dillon Tate, Gabriel Ynoa, Branden Kline, Nathan Karns, Jimmy Yacabonis, Tanner Scott, David Hess and Cody Carroll.
Cashner, Bundy and Gilmartin threw on the stadium field. Harvey, Hess and Carroll threw on Camden Yards South.
Catcher Cody Roberts and pitcher Hunter Harvey do a quick weather check before Harvey pitched a round of batting practice.
Cody Roberts, right, came over from minor league camp to catch Hunter Harvey.
Cody Carroll also pitched live batting practice today.
Jimmy Yacabonis, who also pitched batting practice today, signs an autograph for a young fan.