Harvey eyes next step after shaky O's debut

March 5th, 2021

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Upon arriving at Orioles camp on a Minor League deal, reminisced on his days, more than a decade ago, as a top prospect at Mets Spring Training. That was the last time, Harvey said, he had to compete for a job. The implication being the results matter this spring, as the veteran righty looks to revive his career.

Harvey struggled in his O's spring debut on Friday, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings in a 13-4 loss to the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Harvey yielded a two-run double to Randal Grichuk in the first and an opposite-field homer to Danny Jansen in the second, throwing 26 total pitches and hitting as high as 94 mph on the stadium radar gun. Harvey hit a batter and did not record a strikeout.

“I haven’t had to make a team since 2011, so it’s definitely different,” Harvey said. “I’m not happy about the results today by any means. Every start matters in my mind. It’s the first one and I know what I did wrong, and I know the fix. Every time I pick up a baseball … in my mind, everything is being watched.”

Now, 31, and more than a half-decade removed from his Dark Knight days in New York, Harvey will earn $1 million this season if he can wrangle an Opening Day rotation spot. His competition is a mixed crowd: veteran reclamation projects Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc, prospects Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, and several other swingman types. Harvey, a former All-Star, went 10-17 with a 5.85 ERA over parts of the past three seasons with the Mets, Reds, Angels and Royals. He went 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA over his first three seasons in Queens, from 2012-15.

“Today, I was kind of babying my offspeed, and that was what hurt me,” Harvey said. “Its been so long since I’ve been able to really feel comfortable throwing even my fastball, today was a big step in the right direction, knowing what we’ve been doing mechanically on the back fields, is paying off. Trusting the work we’ve put in in between starts and not babying the offspeed like I did today -- that’s the next step.”

From the trainer’s room

DJ Stewart’s hot spring start hit a snag on Friday, when he tweaked his hamstring running down the first-base line in the third. Stewart was limping after beating out a double-play ball, though he exited the game under his own power.

Stewart had been a bright spot early in camp as he looked to separate himself in a crowded Orioles outfield mix -- battling Austin Hays and others for at-bats as the fourth outfielder and designated hitter.

More from the game

It had been a slow first week of Grapefruit League play for Ryan Mountcastle, who changed that with his first spring homer on Friday. Mountcastle clobbered a two-run shot off Anthony Kay in the third, scattering some birds atop the light tower stationed beyond the left-field wall. The homer traveled a projected 406 feet, per Statcast.

Mountcastle, 23, entered camp the nominal starter in left field and an American League Rookie of the Year Award favorite after hitting .333 with five homers and .878 OPS in 33 games in 2020.

After Harvey exited, rotation hopeful Akin fanned two but allowed one run on one hit and two walks over two innings in his spring debut. The left-hander, who went 1-2 with 4.56 ERA in eight big league games (six starts) down the stretch last year, is bidding to hold off Jorge Lopez, Thomas Eshelman and others for a back-end rotation spot this spring.

Jones wants more gold

The 2021 Olympic Games are set for July 23-Aug. 8, in Tokyo, Japan, right in the middle of the MLB season, which will disqualify most -- if not all -- Major League players from participating. But at least one former Orioles star could suit up to represent the United States.

Five-time All-Star outfielder Adam Jones told MLB.com's Jon Morosi on Friday that he’d be interested in playing for Team USA. Jones, 35, is in his second season with the Orix Buffaloes of the NPB, which will break so its players can participate in the Olympics this summer.

Jones played an enormous role the last time Team USA competed internationally, famously propelling the Americans toward their 2017 World Baseball Classic championship with his game-saving home run robbery of Manny Machado.

He also played in the 2013 Classic.

“If Team USA qualifies, I’d love to be part of the team in any capacity,” Jones told Morosi.

One of the more popular and productive Orioles of this century, Jones hit .279 with 263 home runs and a .777 OPS from 2008-18 with Baltimore, winning five AL Gold Glove Awards. He’s retained his connection with the city, saying recently on Instagram he still considers himself a Baltimore resident, and making a $10,000 donation to help local restaurants affected by the pandemic. Jones also said he’d be open to managing or being the general manager of the O's after his playing career.

Put him on the airwaves

The Orioles are getting their first look this spring at recently acquired prospect Jahmai Jones, who arrived in the organization via the Alex Cobb trade last month. Thus far, Jones has impressed O’s officials with his bat speed and athleticism, appearing in three of the first five Grapefruit League games at second base.

Perhaps he also possesses another skill. Listen:

That’s Jones reacting in the O’s dugout to Ramón Urías game-winning three-run homer Thursday, courtesy of the Orioles and reliever Isaac Mattson’s Twitter feeds. Maybe he has a future in the booth if this whole baseball thing doesn’t work out.

Up next

If the showers in the forecast hold off, veteran right-hander Félix Hernández is scheduled to make his spring debut when the Orioles return home to face the Tigers at 6:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium. The 2010 AL League Cy Young Award winner is trying to win a rotation job after opting out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. The plan is for Trey Mancini to be back in the lineup again as well.