Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey and 31-year-old comeback pitcher Nathan Karns might be worlds apart in the baseball time-space continuum, but both took a big first step during the team’s first full-squad spring workout Monday.
Harvey pitched to hitters for the first time since last June and Karns did so for the first time in a year. Both said they felt good, but Harvey was limited to just one six-minute session while most of the starters threw twice.
Manager Brandon Hyde said afterward that the Orioles are going to be very careful with Harvey after the years of injury that he has endured. Harvey was on the schedule to pitch two sessions, but said the coaches decided after the first one that one was enough.
“It was kind of just up in the air,” said Harvey, who pitched just 32 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie last season before being sidelined by shoulder and arm soreness. “He wanted to see how it went and he thought take it a little slow the first time out and then next time I’ll probably go two.
“I felt great. My body feels good. My arm felt good. I was was a little rusty but it was good to get back out there.”
Hyde has said all along that the club is going to tread very lightly with Harvey and the other pitchers coming off injuries.
“We're going to be as careful and we're going to try to do things right by Hunter Harvey,” Hyde said after the workout. “We want him the break camp healthy. That's the No. 1 goal. We're all aware of where he's been at the last few years and the challenges he's faced. We're just trying here to be supportive and try to get him to finish his spring training healthy and ready to have a great season.”
Karns, who was shut down all last season with elbow soreness, threw both sessions and said he threw all of his pitches without any issues. He said he was very pleased with the results.
“Definitely, I think the hitters are, too, because I didn’t hit them, so that was the best thing,” he said. “It was nice to get the first one out there, compete, try to work on locating, a little bit of sequence and just kind of see how it plays off against the hitters and I’m pretty happy with how things were able to go.”
Though Karns appears to be on the same schedule as the rest of the staff, Hyde was non-committal about Harvey’s chances of pitching during the early part of the exhibition season.
“He's going to pitch exhibition games when I think we feel he's ready,” Hyde said. “Whenever that is, I'm not really sure yet. He had a six minute deal today. He's going to go back out in a couple days and do it again, maybe get pushed a little bit. But we're going to be really careful with him, and like I said, I just want him to finish spring training in a great place physically and mentally.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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