SARASOTA, Fla. -- Despite being short on certainty in terms of starting pitching, the Orioles won't be wanting for rotation candidates this spring. The club is planning to stretch at least eight of the pitchers who reported to camp Tuesday out as starters, and give legitimate looks to at least
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Despite being short on certainty in terms of starting pitching, the Orioles won't be wanting for rotation candidates this spring. The club is planning to stretch at least eight of the pitchers who reported to camp Tuesday out as starters, and give legitimate looks to at least six for its three vacant rotation spots.
Hunter Harvey is just not one of them.
O's manager Brandon Hyde said Tuesday the club is considering Harvey strictly as a reliever this spring, an offseason removed from the right-hander's electric seven-game debut last season. The Orioles converted Harvey to the bullpen last June, looking to manage his workload after years lost to arm injuries. He debuted in August and pitched to a 1.42 ERA down the stretch before he was shut down in late September with right biceps soreness.
Harvey, who was drafted and developed as a starter, said he is completely healthy and is eager to reprise his bullpen role in 2020.
"That's what I enjoy," Harvey said. "Like I've kind of always said, wherever they want me, we're gonna make it work. We're gonna pitch. I enjoy being in the bullpen, having that role, but whatever comes at me, I'll be ready."
Asked about his mindset heading into camp, Harvey said his goal is to compete for a roster spot come Opening Day. The reality is, though, Harvey's name is one of the few already penciled-in for a back-end bullpen spot, assuming he gets through camp healthy. Harvey's power stuff played up in shorter stints out of the 'pen, translating to 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in last season's small sample. His presence allowed the Orioles to restrict closer Mychal Givens to one-inning outings down the stretch, and this year could free Givens up to be deployed in high-leverage situations regardless of inning. If that happens, Harvey is the leading candidate to handle ninth-inning duties.
"[Last year], it was nice just nice to get your feet wet, just get the feeling of being in the big leagues," Harvey said. "And pitching in those situations, it kind of calms the nerves a little bit. So, you know, I can pitch there. I've done it. It makes you not worry about that and now it's just like every other day. It's just baseball."
The Orioles made another minor transaction for infield depth on Tuesday, claiming utility man Ramón Urías off waivers from the Cardinals. For the second time in less than a month, infielder Pat Valaika was removed from the roster in a corresponding move. This time, he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Signed out of the Mexican League in 2018, Urías reached Triple-A in St. Louis' system each of the past two seasons, slashing .262/.347/.426 with 14 homers in 142 games at the level. The 25-year-old's primary position is second base, but he has seen time at shortstop, third base, first base and left field over the course of his professional career. In Orioles camp, he'll compete with Richie Martin, Richard Urena and others for a bench job.
That group also includes Valaika, who was reinvited to camp as a non-roster invite. He had reported early prior to the move.
From the trainer's room
One of the early position player reports to camp was outfielder DJ Stewart, who is rehabbing from microfracture right ankle surgery in October. Hyde said Stewart was "progressing well," but he acknowledged the outfielder would be "slow-played," early in camp. At the time of the surgery, the Orioles announced Stewart would resume baseball activities "near the end of Spring Training," casting his chances for Opening Day in doubt.
Stewart, 26, hit .238 with a .698 OPS in 44 games as a rookie in 2019, missing significant time to ankle and head injuries.
"He is going through his progression and they feel real positive about how his rehab has gone," Hyde said.
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.