Hunter Harvey appears headed to injured list

Orioles reliever Hunter Harvey won’t be in the visiting bullpen for the opening series against the Red Sox, his next move appearing to be the 10-day injured list instead of the closer’s role.

Harvey is bothered by some tightness in his elbow that manager Brandon Hyde described as “muscular,” which reduces the level of concern but also prevents the former first-round draft selection from remaining active.

Harvey-Delivers-Orange-at-KC-Sidebar.jpg“That’s very doubtful that he’s going to break with us,” Hyde said on his Zoom conference call with the media. “He’s still got some soreness and hopefully he gets healthy soon and we see him on the mound. He’s a big part of our club.

“I think the chances of him breaking with us are extremely slim.”

No matter how the news is packaged, it’s disturbing due to Harvey’s injury history, which includes ligament-reconstructive surgery in his elbow in 2016. He was healthy in spring training and at the beginning of summer camp, but moved into a dead-arm period.

“It’s muscular and it is in the elbow area, so we’re not concerned about it at all,” Hyde said. “It’s just a little tight, so we’re being conservative with him, we’re monitoring him. I haven’t heard how he’s doing today yet, but it’s something where he is progressing, is feeling better and hopefully he’s with us soon.”

Harvey made his major league debut last summer and appeared in seven games, registering a 1.42 ERA and 1.105 WHIP with 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings and embracing his new relief role. He was shut down after Sept. 13 because of the pronounced increase in his innings and slowness of his arm to bounce back.

Removing Harvey from the pitching equation creates a spot for another reliever to join the bullpen rather than tempt the Orioles into keeping an extra position player.

“I don’t think we’re going to go one less,” Hyde said. “I think we’ll just replace Hunter with somebody else on the roster, a pitcher on the roster, and just gives an opportunity for somebody else until he’s ready to pitch for us.”

Hyde said the team is close to finalizing its 30-man roster, which must be turned into Major League Baseball by noon Thursday.

“We met up for a while this morning,” he said. “Those conversations are still going, but yeah, I think we’re narrowing it down here to the last spot or two and we should have a decision here sometime later today.”

Hyde labeled Harvey as “a consideration” for the injured list. Reliever Dillon Tate still can’t play catch due to a sore elbow and likely will go on the IL. The club hasn’t decided whether outfielder Dwight Smith Jr., on the COVID-19 injured list, will be included on the 30-man roster.

“That’s about it,” Hyde said.

Deciding between two and three catchers is part of the ongoing discussion. The three-man taxi squad must include a backstop.

“That was all being weighed this morning,” Hyde said.

Alex Cobb and Wade LeBlanc will start the last two games of the opening series in Boston, as they’ve been lined up to do. Tommy Milone gets Friday night’s assignment.

Milone is replacing John Means, who’s been pushed back due to arm fatigue and should be cleared to face the Marlins on Monday or Tuesday in Miami.

“I think if everything works out well and he is progressing nicely, I think there’s really good chance that he could pitch in one of the games against the Marlins,” Hyde said.

The Orioles intend to keep a few open spots in their 60-man player pool to create flexibility heading into the start of the regular season.

Today’s workout was cut short because of a storm that moved into the Baltimore area.

Ramón Alarcón, the club’s Spanish translator and coordinator of Latin American operations, and his wife Betsy are the proud parents of a baby boy.

Ramón Virgilio Alarcón Sánchez was born earlier today. Hyde offered a “big congratulations” at the beginning of his Zoom call.

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