Harvey ready to handle relief role if on team

SARASOTA, Fla. - Hunter Harvey isn’t in Orioles camp so they can check on his health. He isn’t here to get in some work before heading over to the minor league complex.

Harvey is expected to be part of an eight-man bullpen on opening day, perhaps assuming the role of closer. High-leverage situations, for sure.

Except that he isn’t buying into the hype and assumptions.

Harvey-Looks-Up-White-Sidebar.jpgAsked whether the camp felt any different to him yesterday, Harvey replied, “I wouldn’t think so.”

In Harvey’s mind, only the mullet is certain to avoid being cut.

“I still have an option, so there’s always that chance that you can be sent down,” he said. “I don’t think anything’s guaranteed yet, so that’s my mentality coming in. Trying to make this team just like every other year.”

No other year has offered this much promise.

Harvey made his long-awaited major league debut on Aug. 17 in Boston and appeared in seven games before the Orioles shut him down. He allowed one run and struck out 11 batters in 6 1/3 innings and manager Brandon Hyde, exhausted from the constant shuffling of relievers, looked like a kid receiving a new toy.

An electric one.

“It’s just nice to get your feet wet and just getting the feeling of being in the big leagues and pitching in those situations,” Harvey said. “It kind of calms the nerves a little bit. You know you’ve pitched there, done it and be able to not worry about that. Now it’s just like every other day. It’s just baseball.”

The Orioles could loosen the restraints as Harvey keeps recouping the innings lost because of Tommy John surgery and assorted setbacks. He didn’t pitch last season after Sept. 13 because the club didn’t like how long it took for his arm to bounce back and felt no need to keep pushing him.

“I was satisfied to even be pitching in September,” he said. “One of my main goals last year was try to get a full, healthy season, and I reached my innings, where they wanted me to be. They were happy with it, I was happy with it.

“It stinks that I didn’t get to pitch the last two weeks, but that’s part of it. For me, I thought it was a good season just for the fact that I wasn’t in Florida at all, so that was nice.”

The Orioles drafted Harvey in the first round with visions of him becoming the ace of their staff, but both parties are excited about the current arrangement. The rotation competition will proceed without him. He’s strictly a reliever.

“That’s what I enjoy,” he said. “Like we’ve always said, wherever they want me, we’re going to make it work.

“I enjoy being in the bullpen, having that role, but whatever comes at me, I’ll be ready.”

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