What’s happening? – It’s only an exhibition appearance for two innings, but, in a sense, it is about as highly anticipated as any random outing can be for the Orioles.
Right-hander Hunter Harvey, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect, will make today’s start against the Tampa Rays in Port Charlotte. It’ll be the 23-year-old right-hander’s first Grapefruit League start of his pro career.
“Excited about it. I’m ready to get going, ready to get back on the mound,” Harvey said. “Just (want to show) that I’m healthy. I’m back to the way I was before, just feeling good.”
Harvey was the Orioles’ first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft (22nd overall) and immediately was penciled in as a future top-of-the-rotation starter. But his career has been derailed by myriad injuries, culminating with elbow-ligament (Tommy John) surgery in July 2016. He returned to pitching in the minors at the end of last season, compiling a 0.96 ERA in eight games at three levels, reaching Low-A Delmarva.
It is expected Harvey, the son of former big leaguer Bryan Harvey, will begin the year at Double-A Bowie or possibly High-A Frederick. For now, though, he has the undivided attention of the Orioles and manager Buck Showalter.
“Just the body language is very confident. I think I’ll know more about it after his outing, see if he carries it over there. But I know he’s really excited about getting some of these physical challenges behind him,” Showalter said. “He’s dealt with it and he can go forward now. There’s a real calm about him now, because he knows he’s capable of going out and showing what he can do.”
What’s happened? – Kevin Gausman didn’t make it out of the second inning of Monday’s loss to the Detroit Tigers. What was concerning wasn’t as much the five runs Gausman allowed, but the fact he was forced to leave after colliding with Detroit’s on-deck hitter Jemier Candelario.
Attempting to back up a play at the plate, Gausman accidentally jumped into Candelario, their heads collided and Gausman was cut near his left eye by Candelario’s helmet. Gausman said he felt fine afterward, his back was a little sore, and joked that he looked like he was in a bar fight.
The Orioles don’t believe there will be any lasting problems due to the collision – Gasuman passed the initial concussion tests – but Showalter said the club will wait to see how the right-hander feels in a day or two.
“It’s one of those things that’s kind of like a minor accident, you kind of wait and see. He’s gonna be sore in some places that he’s not normally sore, but he got lucky with his eye,” Showalter said. “They told me they thought we were OK with (no concussion symptoms). But we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said Candelario, who was lifted later in the second inning for a pinch-runner, was day-to-day with a left knee bruise.”
** The Orioles announced their one-year deal with Pedro Alvarez on Monday and the 31-year-old slugger was with the club pregame, taking batting practice and also fielding grounders at first base. This is the third consecutive year Alvarez has signed with the Orioles after spring training has started.
“This is an organization that’s welcomed me with open arms. I have a good rapport with a lot of staff and players here,” Alvarez said. “Obviously, this is a place where, in terms of fit and comfort, from a comfort level, this is definitely a place where I definitely saw myself coming to again.”
Alvarez, who had 10 hits in 32 at-bats for the Orioles last September, is viewed as organizational depth for the club again in 2018. The former second overall pick is excellent insurance in case a corner infielder or designated hitter gets hurt. Showalter said he doesn’t expect Alvarez to continue his experiment in the outfield, which fizzled last year at Triple-A Norfolk. Although he didn’t’ completely shoot it down. Just mainly shot it down.
“The outfield thing was a road we went down last year with some challenges,” Showalter said. “Probably wouldn’t preclude it from happening.”
** Outfielder Craig Gentry is dealing with left hamstring soreness and is expected to be out for a “little while,” Showalter said.
** Outfielder Austin Hays, who has been dealing with a lat injury, is expected to be back in the Orioles lineup today and play in the outfield.
What’s up with? – Colby Rasmus. The 31-year-old outfielder who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles last week participated in his first baseball action since last June 18, when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.
He was hitless in three at-bats in five innings Monday. He struck out while leading off against Detroit’s Michael Fulmer.
Overall, Showalter said Rasmus has fit in well so far.
“Have had some good conversations with him. He likes it here. We’ll let him get comfortable and get into it,” Showalter said. “It was his first day out there on the field. It’s a day he picked to get started, and it’s part of the process.”
What’s what? – Gausman said he’s played baseball all his life and has never collided with an opposing player behind the plate. Showalter said he’s seen it happen with umpires, but never a pitcher running into a guy on the on-deck circle. I don’t recall ever seeing a similar situation in the years I’ve covered the sport, either.
What’s the word? – “I didn’t play so everybody thinks that would be a setback from a development (standpoint). But even though I was sitting down here (in Sarasota), I was learning about my body and what I needed to do to take care of it. And I still watched almost every game we played last year and I watched a lot of the other games, watching (Clayton) Kershaw and (Corey) Kluber. Just trying to learn anything I could, so I felt like it helped a little bit. — Right-hander Hunter Harvey on the learning experience while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
What’s the number? 2. The Orioles hadn’t had a home run hit by a position player other than a catcher heading into Monday’s game, their fifth of the spring. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop and left fielder Trey Mancini altered that bizarre fact with longballs against the Tigers.
What’s the record? 0-4-1. The Orioles lost another Grapefruit League game, losing 8-6 to Detroit. They face the Rays on the road today to try and snap the winless skid.