It’s now official. Harvey will report to camp and increase its total to 73 players, two short of the limit.
Harvey agreed to terms over the weekend and will earn $1 million if he’s on the club.
Manager Brandon Hyde said the rest of the pitchers and catchers are in camp. The gathering in misty Sarasota included veterans Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc, who are competing for spots in the rotation. Harvey will jump into the fray upon his arrival.
“It’s three guys that have pitched a lot of innings in the big leagues and it’s fun to have them in camp,” Hyde said during his Zoom conference call. “Talked a little bit with Félix and Wade today. Great to see Wade back.
“We don’t have a ton of veterans on this team and so to have two guys or more that have pitched in big games and have done this for a long time, I think it’s really, really important. I think it’s huge for our younger players to be able to lean on somebody that’s done it.
“The little I know of Félix, he’s a great guy to be around. We all know Wade from last year, what a quality person and veteran presence he is. So I’m excited to have those guys in camp. I’m a believer that veterans can help young players. They have every opportunity to make this club and we’ll see where it goes.”
Left-hander John Means, on his Zoom call, said he’s waiting for the chance to interact with Hernández, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010 and pitched the first perfect game in Mariners history.
“We haven’t talked a whole lot,” Means said. “Today was kind of hectic. We had some rain and some delays and everyone was kind of scattered all over the place, especially (with) the protocols and everything. It’s kind of tough to have intimate conversations with guys like that, but I look forward to it and I’m sure we’ll have that time.”
Means will stick with what worked for him in 2020, but the mustache is a new feature.
“It just felt right,” he said. “Once I had McCoy, my little boy, I just felt like the mustache needed to come. We’ll see if it stays.”
(MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski has more from Means on his side of the site.)
The shift to a summer training camp in Baltimore last year has made it easier for Hyde to go with the flow. He can adapt to any changes, which includes a new set of rules in Sarasota, Fla.
“It’s going to be a lot different, it’s already different,” he said. “We’re following all the protocols like we did in summer camp and during the season, and a lot of those have continued. Not being able to meet with the team in the clubhouse, being spaced out in the clubhouse, being spaced out in the coaches room, it’s just a lot of changes than we’re used to doing in spring training, but we did have that summer camp to kind of prepare for this, as well as the season last year.
“We’re rolling with it like we did last summer knowing that we’re trying to keep everybody safe and healthy, and that’s the No. 1 priority.”
Hyde suggested that he could go with a six-man rotation to cover innings coming off a truncated season. He noted how depth will be of the “utmost importance.”
“I think anything’s possible this year when it comes to pitching,” he said.
Multi-inning relievers are increasing in value, which is important to consider when making bullpen projections.
“The 26-man roster, so two less than last year, is going to be tough and it’s going to take a lot of pitchers who are able to give you as many innings as possible,” Hyde said.
The exhibition schedule has been reduced, but Hyde expressed confidence that he’ll be able to find a sufficient amount of innings and make fair evaluations of his pitchers.
“We lost some split-squads and we added a day off and we started a day later, but I think we can be creative in how we’re able to see everybody and that’s through some backfield intrasquads, we can do some B games with other teams,” he said. “I’ve already talked to some other managers about the possibility of that, so I think there is a lot of ways that we can still get guys innings and still get a good look at everybody in camp.
Innings totals are going to climb dramatically after a 60-game season. The health concerns move beyond COVID-19.
“It is challenge,” Hyde said. “I think we’re in a unique situation with the season being so short last year. Guys are coming off an unusual year, getting ramped up for spring, shut down, getting ramped back up for summer camp and the season, lost a lot of innings for a lot of guys. But I do feel how our guys prepared last year and how they continued to throw, I feel like we are prepared for this year, but it’s definitely a concern and it’s definitely something we’re going to monitor closely. Our pitchers’ innings, how they’re feeling on a daily basis.
“We’re kind of short this year with a 26-man roster and that’s definitely a factor. I think it’s a reasonable concern to have with guys coming off a year that was unusual and see how they’re going to react this year, especially later in the year.”
Reliever Shawn Armstrong was counted among the pitchers who threw today in the bullpen. His offseason routine didn’t change much, which is smart. He already came up with some adjustments - slowing down the game, how he set up on the rubber - that made him more effective in 2020.
Armstrong recovered from his back injury and was able to lift weights and work out in the usual manner.
“I threw a bullpen today and it went really, really well,” he said in his Zoom call. “Body feels great and I’m excited to get going.”
Here are some spring training uniform numbers of possible interest:
Hernández is No. 34, Freddy Galvis 2, Pat Valaika 11, Yolmer Sánchez, 13, Yusniel Diaz 23, Bruce Zimmermann 50, Fernando Abad 58, Jahmai Jones 78, Heston Kjerstad 92, Gunnar Henderson 93, Jordan Westburg 95, Adley Rutschman 96 and Ryan Ripken 99.
The club’s transactions page last month listed Rio Ruiz as switching to No. 2, but he’s gone back to 14.
Hyde began his media session by offering condolences on the passing of longtime baseball writer and analyst Mel Antonen.
“I know a lot of people were close with him and colleagues, so I wanted to pay my respects and say I’m sorry for his loss,” Hyde said. “I know he meant a lot to a lot of people on here. I haven’t had a chance to talk to you guys since then. My heart and wishes go out to you guys who knew him and his family.”