Sports reporter Jon Meoli reports from Orioles minicamp on pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, and their clean bills of health. (Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — A pair of promising young pitchers whose recent arm troubles have dimmed their prospect shine, Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, reported that they are completely healthy at the outset of Orioles minicamp Monday morning.
"Dylan's not going to throw off the mound, he's just playing long toss," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the first day of work at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. "That's where he is in the program. He's going very maturely and smart, where he may not have been as much in the past. I'm impressed with how he's handling where the finish line is. Reminds me of some of the challenges with Harvey. Hunter's wanting to be right [there]. Hunter's already thrown four times off the mound, his father told us."
Bundy, the Orioles' 2011 first-round draft pick, threw just 22 innings over eight starts at Double-A Bowie before a calcium buildup in his shoulder caused tightness that kept him off the mound for the rest of the season in 2015.
He returned briefly for the Arizona Fall League, but was scratched before his third start with forearm tightness.
Bundy said that "wasn't a big deal" and his long-toss program at home in Oklahoma was already well underway.
Because he has thrown just 63 1/3 minor league innings over the past three seasons after Tommy John surgery, he knows his limitations will keep him to the Orioles bullpen if he makes the team. He has no minor league options remaining, so they must keep him on the 25-man roster all season or risk losing him.
"I expected if I make that team, that's where I'll be is the bullpen because of my innings lately," Bundy said. "The past couple years I haven't thrown many innings, so I can't really be a 200-innings starter. So yeah, being in the bullpen anywhere in the big leagues, I'll take any position and I'll be fine."
Harvey, the team's 2013 first-round pick, hasn't thrown in a game since July 2014. That season ended with a flexor mass strain in his throwing arm — a typical precursor to serious elbow injuries — but he had a clean bill of health when he returned for spring training last year.
But a comebacker fractured his leg, and he said he came back too quickly from that and developed elbow issues that cost him the entire season.
Harvey said he feels "pretty good so far," having thrown for a month and a half at home, including three live bullpen sessions.
He said the season snowballed after the spring training injury, but he hasn't seen Dr. James Andrews since September and doesn't believe surgery is necessary.
"We're confident none of that's going to happen now," Harvey said. "I'm really healthy, haven't had any pain, nothing. I'm feeling 100 percent."
Likewise, right-hander Parker Bridwell said he had a regular offseason after getting a plasma-rich platelet injection in his throwing elbow in August. He was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason and said he'd have a bullpen session Tuesday.
Showalter not surprised by Davis wait
Showalter hasn't spoken to free-agent first baseman Chris Davis recently, but doesn't expect a quick resolution to the free agency saga that seems to be plugging up the hitters market and his own offseason.
"It was just so much, and being able to step away from baseball this past couple weeks and months and kind of analyze everything, the year I had, it was an exhausting year mentally," Garcia said. "It was tough. I went through a lot and didn't realize it, but I took out so much. I'm feeling good."
Garcia finished the season strong after rehabbing in Double-A Bowie, and said he learned there that he didn't have to overexert to prove himself in the major leagues having never pitched above Single-A .
"I put a lot on myself just being from A-ball and the Rule 5 draft and trying to impress everybody and show I can compete at the higher level," he said. "It's definitely something you question a little at first. Am I going to be able to keep up with these guys? You try not to think about it that much, but I think I was the youngest guy to start the season. My mindset's changed a lot this year. I'm just trusting my stuff."
MSJ's Floyd an option
The minicamp has in years past brought a veteran tryout or two, and this year, Showalter asked area scout Dean Albany to invite right-hander Gavin Floyd (Mount St. Joseph) to throw for them at minicamp.
The former first-round pick has frequently been connected to the Orioles, and it's unclear whether he will take them up on that offer. Floyd has dealt with serious elbow injuries of late, and pitched in just seven games for the Cleveland Indians in 2015.
Around the horn
Showalter said there are 63 players "and counting" who will be invited to major league spring training, and he extended an invitation to major league camp to minor league catcher Jonah Heim on Monday. … The early minicamp for minor league players, which will feature players who can supplement the roster early in spring training, will begin Feb. 24. Minor league pitchers report March 5, and position players report March 9.