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After Long Wait, Hunter Harvey Gets First Grapefruit League Start

February 27, 2018
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- In his fifth spring training with the Baltimore Orioles, Hunter Harvey finally made his first Grapefruit League start Feb. 27.
In two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, the right-hander allowed a run on three hits, striking out three and walking one.
Harvey, who's now 23, has had an injury-ravaged career, and the Orioles hope the player they selected in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft will make the wait worthwhile.
Harvey has thrown just 31.1 innings since July 2014 when he experienced elbow discomfort. In July 2016, he underwent Tommy John surgery. Still, Harvey said he wasn't nervous about his initial start.

"It was cool to get in there and get some big league hitters and kind of get a taste of it," Harvey said. "I kind of felt a little crazy out there. I guess it was just the first time being out there in a long time, trying to get my body back under me."

Harvey has never pitched above Low-A ball, but the Orioles hope that as long as he comes out of spring training healthy, the level he starts at won't matter. They're hoping he ends the 2018 season in Baltimore.

Manager Buck Showalter wanted Harvey to get this spring training start.

"He deserves it," Showalter said. "The kid's been through a lot. Who knows what today's going to bring or down the road's going to bring? I did want him to be in a role his first time out that he's not used to, not knowing what inning he's going to come in and how long he's going to have to warm up. We have high hopes for him."

Showalter isn't saying if Harvey will begin the season in Class-A Frederick or Double-A Bowie. 

Despite only pitching in 13 games in 2016 and 2017 combined, Harvey said the time he was sidelined wasn't wasted. 

"I didn't play so that kind of made everybody think that there would be a setback for the development," Harvey said. "But even though I was sitting down here, I was learning about my body and what I needed to do to take care of it. I still watched almost every game we played and I watched all 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."

Showalter isn't concerned about Harvey's ability to deal with the pressure of the big leagues. His father, Bryan Harvey, was a longtime major league relief pitcher.

"When you draft a major leaguer's son, some of that stuff isn't as much of an adjustment, but I don't think he's a guy who's going to get too amped up about things," Showalter said.
"He knows we have his best interests at heart and he's right where he needs to be. I'm just hoping he gets through those two innings feeling good about himself. He's not worried about, is this going to hurt anymore when he's throwing? I think it's something that even when we drafted him, we knew that at some point this was going to happen, so it's good to finally get it behind us. And he's still a young man."
Harvey will inevitably be compared with Dylan Bundy, another Orioles first-round draft pick who had Tommy John surgery.
"I think that's why they have a certain connection," Showalter said.
In the next few days Showalter will decided whether Harvey will get additional Grapefruit League starts. But for now, Harvey is happy to be healthy and is ready to pitch at any level.
"Coming into camp, it's nice, they told me in the offseason, 'Hey, you are up in the air now; you're just like anybody else,'" Harvey said. "You hear that and it puts a little fire in you."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox