O's Harvey feeling good after BP session

February 18th, 2019
Baltimore Orioles pitchers Nate Karns (36) and Hunter Harvey (56) stretch during workouts at their spring training baseball facility in Sarasota, Fla., Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Gerald Herbert/AP

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The simple question stumped Orioles right-hander for a moment.

Not long before, Harvey had hopped off a backfield mound at the club's Spring Training complex and exhaled. He was one of 14 pitchers scheduled to face hitters as part of the club's first full-squad workout on Monday, and now that he had, Harvey was asked to recall when was the last time he threw competitive pitches.

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"Shoot ... " Harvey said, his voice trailing off. "That's a good question."

The answer is June 1, 2018. Harvey's pitches on Monday came in the form of a six-minute batting practice session, one of two that Harvey was originally slated to participate in.

He ended up throwing only one. Both Harvey and manager Brandon Hyde chalked the truncated workout up to precaution.

"I felt great," Harvey said. "Body felt good, arm felt good. Felt a little rusty, but it was good to get back out there."

"We're going to be careful and we're going to do what's right for Hunter Harvey," Hyde said. We want him to break camp healthy. That's the number one goal."

With Harvey, though, it's always a concern, given his history. He has undergone years of injuries and setbacks since becoming the O's first-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, making just 22 starts over the previous four seasons. Nine of those came in 2018, before his season ended due to elbow discomfort. It was a freak shoulder injury before that. Harvey has also undergone Tommy John surgery.

"It's been something every year," he said.

Hence the conservative approach. Hyde said he plans to slow-roll Harvey through the first few weeks of official workouts given "the challenges he's faced," even if that means a later debut in Grapefruit League play. Harvey is slated to toss batting practice again later this week, at which point he'll double his initial workload with an eye toward building toward game action.

"We wanted to take it slow the first time out, and next time we'll probably go two [batting practice sessions]," Harvey said. "I'm just trying to get through the full year."

Mark a milestone

The first batting practice sessions also marked a milestone for an important Orioles hitter, as made several appearances in the Ed Smith Stadium batter's box. The rehabbing slugger still hasn't fully tested his surgically-repaired right knee -- he still needs to sprint on it before being fully cleared, and he likely won't be for the start of Grapefruit League play -- but the seven rounds of swings he took on Monday did nothing to halt his progression. Trumbo stepped in repeatedly against a rotating crew of , and left-hander , who were among the group of 14 pitchers to throw BP.

Around the horn

Harvey wasn't the only Orioles pitcher for which throwing to hitters was notable. Before Monday, it had been even longer for right-hander , who last pitched to Major League batters during last year's Spring Training with the Royals. In 2018, Karns was trying to work his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome. Instead, he injured his pitching elbow and he missed all of last season. Fully recovered, Karns inked a Minor League deal with the Orioles in January, and he projects as the club's No. 4 starter if he can remain healthy.

"Unfortunately, I've been through the ringer a couple of times," Karns said. "Right now, I feel comfortable with what I'm able to do right now, and on pace to be able to be where I need to be."

• Hyde said infielder Alcides Escobar was expected to report to camp late on Monday, with an eye toward participating in workouts on Tuesday. An 11-year veteran, Escobar signed a Minor League deal with the O's over the weekend. He figures to factor heavily into the club's middle infield mix.

• The team had no update on the statuses of catcher (visa issues) and right-hander (illness), who remain in their native Venezuela.

Sending a message

With 59 players in camp, Hyde addressed the entire group prior to the team's first full-squad workout.

"I touched a lot of areas, standards I believe in, expectations in camp, expectations for the season," Hyde said. "I feel like they took the message well. I think guys were ready to get out on the field. When you are a competitor and you're trying to win a big league job, that's what it's all about. They've been really respectful and responded really well to it so far."