BALTIMORE—Major League Baseball suspended pitcher Matt Harvey, whom the Orioles re-signed to a minor league contract on April 8th, for 60 games without pay for “participating in the distribution of a prohibited Drug of Abuse in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.”
Harvey’s suspension, which is retroactive to April 29th, came after he testified that he distributed opioids to the late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs at the trial of Eric Kay, the onetime communications director of the Angels.
Harvey was subpoenaed and granted immunity for his testimony.
Last season, Harvey led the Orioles with 28 starts. He was 6-14 with a 6.27 ERA. He had been pitching in extended spring training in Sarasota.
“We support all aspects of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and their ruling in this particular case,” Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said in a statement. “I am glad that Matt now has the opportunity to put this part of his past behind him and pursue another shot with our organization after serving his suspension.”
During his suspension, Harvey can continue to work out in Sarasota, but not participate in games.
Hays back in lineup: Austin Hays is back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered a cut on his left hand last Thursday when he was spiked sliding headfirst into first base against the Cardinals.
He and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who went on the injured list because of a sore left wrist, have been out of the lineup at the same time, and the Orioles have struggled offensively. They have lost four straight and have only 11 hits in their last three games.
“The concern is his hand and his comfort level,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He said he feels good. It went well yesterday, him hitting in the cage, hitting for the first time on the field today.
“I’m sure it’s not going to be 100 percent comfortable. It’s scraped up pretty bad still. He’s going to be wearing a batting glove. He’s never done that, so hopefully he can grind through it and give us a little bit of a spark offensively.”
Hays made a strong throw from left in the first inning after Yankees rightfielder Aaron Judge hit a drive off the top of the left-field wall. The hit scored DJ LeMahieu, who had been hit by a pitch by Oriole starter Spenser Watkins, but Judge was tagged out at third after he came off the base.
Gillaspie, Vespi added: The Orioles added two relief pitchers when they recalled right-hander Logan Gillaspie and purchased the contract of left-hander Nick Vespi. Both had been with Triple-A Norfolk..
“I feel like we’re in that tough stretch right now,” Hyde said. “We need that extra arm facing some really good lineups without an offday coming up soon. We just felt like we needed an extra arm and a guy that can give us a few innings out of the ‘pen.”
Gillaspie, who was added to the 40-man roster last November, was 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA in nine games with Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. He struck out 17 and walked five in 14 1/3 innings.
“Another guy on our 40-man roster that we want to take a look at,” Hyde said. “Didn’t see him much in spring training, kind of an unusual story. He started the year in Double-A, pitched well, did a fairly good job in Triple-A, and we needed the innings.”
Vespi was 0-1 with a 0.00 ERA and four saves in 12 games for the Tides. He’s allowed six hits in 14 1/3 innings, striking out 21 and walking three. An 18th-round draft choice in 2015, he never pitched above Low-A until 2021.
“This day is amazing. I’ve been working on this day since 2015, so I’m excited that it’s finally here,” Vespi said. “I just stuck to the same gameplan that I had in years past, and it worked for me this year, and so I’m going to continue to do that.”
Vespi pitched a hitless 2 1/3 innings in spring training.
“He’s pitching lights out in Norfolk,” Hyde said. “Performance-wise, he’s been pitching extremely well down there. It’s nice to see somebody that’s gone down and dominant a level and earn his way here, which Vespi has. Excited to get a left-hander in the bullpen, liked his stuff in spring training. I think it’s a little bit unusual. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works up here.”
The Orioles optioned infielder Rylan Bannon to Norfolk and designated left-handed pitcher Logan Allen for assignment.
“When you have roster movement, you have to make quick decisions on people sometimes,” Hyde said. “Sometimes they get a fair evaluation, sometimes maybe they don’t. Whatever’s best for Logan, I hope that’s what happens. If he can stay in the organization, that would be great. Hopefully, we can see him up here at some point.”
Bannon was 2-for-14 (.143) in four games. Allen had a 10.80 ERA in three games.
“I just hope he appreciated the opportunity, and he did,” Hyde said about Bannon. “Just go down and keep working hard and try to put up numbers. Hopefully, we’ll see him back here sometime this summer.”
The moves give the Orioles 14 pitchers and three extra position players.
Hyde said that shortstop Jorge Mateo, who’s been out because of a shoulder/rib cage injury he suffered in a collision, could play shortly.
“He’s still getting treatment, but we hope he’s available off the bench, hopefully a starter tomorrow,” Hyde said.
Mountcastle on track: Mountcastle thinks he’ll be back on Saturday, when he’s eligible to return. He’s not sure how he hurt the wrist.
“It was some type of forearm/wrist thing that shot up through my thumb, through the middle of my forearm,” Mountcastle said. “It was really bugging me, and after the game it was killing me, so I really needed to get it checked out, just wasn’t progressing that well. Right now, it’s feeling better, and hopefully it will be good by Saturday.”
Hyde hopes Mountcastle can come back quickly.
“You never know with the wrist,” he said. “He’s going to take some swings for a couple of days prior and see how he bounces back from that. Hopefully, he’s able to come off the IL on that day. You never know.”
Hyde said that a rehab assignment hasn’t been discussed, and he didn’t think one was necessary.
Means on campus: John Means was in the Orioles’ clubhouse for the first time since his Tommy John surgery on April 27th. “Great to see John,” Hyde said. “He’s got the big brace. Great to see his face. Great for him to be around. I know the guys were pumped he was coming in today.”
Minor league update: Dean Kremer, who’s on the 10-day injured list because of a strained left oblique muscle, starts for Double-A Bowie on Wednesday.
“He has got a certain amount of starts in Double-A,” Hyde said. “If things go well, we reevaluate in Triple-A. We’re building him up for multiple innings. I don’t know if it’s going to be 100-pitch. It’s going to take a while. We’ll start with three or four innings and go from there.”
Infielder Shed Long was transferred from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen. Long is rehabbing a left leg injury. Right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2021, was transferred from Bowie to Norfolk.
Right-handed pitcher Carter Baumler, a fifth-round draft pick in 2020 who underwent Tommy John surgery that October, pitched three innings in an extended spring game in Sarasota on Monday, striking out six and walking three.
Rightfielder Isaac Bellony hit a two-run home run, his fifth, and shortstop Isaac De Leon hit a solo homer, his second, as Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 5-3. Dan Hammer (2-2) allowed a run on two hits in four innings, striking out five without walking out a batter.