In the end, the Orioles got the result they dreaded but also anticipated. They announced Thursday that right-handed pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, their 2013 first-round draft pick, will need Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Speaking for the first time since the news, both executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were optimistic considering the setback.
Still, they know the reality that the long road to the big leagues for Harvey will now be much longer. The right-hander has had a lengthy injury history since he joined the organization, most recently right forearm soreness during his last start for Short-A Aberdeen on July 16. The Orioles held off as long as they could, but now surgery is the only option left.
"We found out that we had to do the surgical route, and as I said, we could have found that out sooner or we could have decided together," Duquette said. "Ultimately, it's Hunter's decision. But given his age, he should be able to resume his career."
Harvey will have the surgery Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., with Dr. Donald D'Alessandro. Duquette estimated that Harvey could be back on the mound in 12-18 months.
Harvey's latest shot at a return had been going smoothly. He breezed through two outings in the Gulf Coast League before coming up and pitching for Aberdeen. He missed all of 2015 with leg and elbow injuries.
"Let me say this about that: He's 21, [Dylan Bundy's] 23 — you know, you can do a lot of hindsight stuff," Showalter said. "I know there's a lot of things taken in trying to see if we could keep from this happening. I'm looking forward. If you look at him and Dylan and some of the challenges we're going to be able to put behind them, you look at the history of those things, I like our chances of getting an effective pitcher down the road. So I try to keep that in mind."
Bundy, the Orioles' other recent first-round pitcher out of high school, has come along and made his first big league home start Friday against the Cleveland Indians, giving Showalter reason for optimism with Harvey.
"Especially a high school guy," Showalter said. "And we knew this might be a challenge when we took him. We think he's worth the wait."
Relief pitcher Darren O'Day (hamstring) pitched one scoreless inning in a rehabilitation appearance Friday at Double-A Bowie. He allowed one hit, struck out two and threw 16 pitches (11 strikes). O'Day's next outing could be in the big leagues, where he hasn't pitched since June 1.