Hunter Harvey, who hasn’t pitched this season because of a strained right forearm, is with the Orioles on their current road trip. He isn’t sure when he’ll be activated, though manager Brandon Hyde said that he hoped Harvey would pitch by the end of the month, which is the final day of the road trip.
“I’m feeling great right now. I’ve been feeling good for the past few weeks,” Harvey said in a video conference call from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, here soon we’ll be able to get out there and start pitching in some big league games …”
The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday and Thursday before moving on to Buffalo, where they’ll face the Toronto Blue Jays in four games beginning Friday.
More than six years after he was the Orioles’ first-round draft pick in 2013, Harvey finally pitched in the major leagues in 2019, allowing one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out 11 and walking four. In a small sample size, he was overpowering.
Harvey’s career has been defined by injuries, including Tommy John surgery, instead of the talent he demonstrated late last season. He pitched 75 2/3 innings with the Orioles, Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie last year, and he hoped it was a sign that his health had been restored.
When his forearm bothered him during summer training, Harvey didn’t think the worst.
“Even when it first came about, I didn’t think it was anything too bad,” Harvey said. “It didn’t feel like it ever did before. Those years when I kept getting hurt, especially with the forearm, it hurt really bad. This didn’t really seem like anything. I didn’t think it would be anything serious at the end of the day.
“It never crossed my mind being something like it was in the past.”
Harvey described his forearm as feeling “uncomfortable. I do think I could have pitched with it and everything would have been fine and nothing serious would have come from it. We just wanted to play it safe, and take a couple of days off and kind of build back up, and that’s what we did.
“It was never any sharp pain, nothing like that, just uncomfortable.”
Harvey, who had been working at the Orioles’ alternate site at Bowie, joined the team for its road trip. While at Prince George’s Stadium, Harvey faced hitters, throwing live batting practices, and said that was working well.
The 25-year-old is extremely close with his father, Bryan, a former All-Star closer.
“It’s been tough with Dad,” Harvey said. “Dad’s definitely not used to not coming to see me, and it’s killing him. He’s calling me three or four times a day. He’s blowing me up, same with my brother.”
Working in rehab and throwing intrasquads with no atmosphere at Bowie has been challenging.
“It’s a lot different,” Harvey said. “I wouldn’t know how to explain it. They’re doing a good job down there to try and make it game-like — at least they’ve got the crowd noise and everything.
“It’s difficult with everything going on. It’s tough, but guys are definitely pushing through it.”
Harvey said he’s been throwing all his pitches.
“We’re not really sure what’s going to come this week,” he said. “We’ll just kind of see what happens as each day progresses.”
Harvey has worked with some of the other top draft choices at Bowie, including DL Hall (2017) and Grayson Rodriguez (2018).
“I think it’s going good down there,” he said. “It also helps that we have some good hitters down there, so it challenges some of the young guys like DL and Grayson. We’ve got some great arms down there. We’ve got some good players, and it’s exciting to see what’s going to happen. They’re doing a great job down there developing guys.
“I talk with DL Hall a lot every day. He’s got some electric stuff. It’s crazy. He’s got a big arm. He’s left-handed. He’s got a bright future and, with Grayson Rodriguez, he’s all around a great pitcher. They’re young and they’ve got a lot of … I wouldn’t know how to explain it. They’re just going to be really good. There are some good arms.”
Harvey, who’s always been proud of his long hair, has a challenger for Orioles’ hairstyle king — third baseman Rio Ruiz, who said he hasn’t gotten a haircut during the pandemic.
“He said he’s not growing a mullet, but I told him he was,” Harvey said. “He’s trying to get on the mullet train.”