To listen to the talk around the Orioles during spring training, when top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey stayed with the team almost to the very end, his eventual arrival in Baltimore this season was a certainty. Unfortunately, nothing is ever certain with pitching prospects, especially ones with his injury history, and now it seems that Harvey’s Orioles debut is on hold again.
Baltimore Baseball’s Dan Connolly reported on Friday night that Harvey has been scratched from his scheduled start with Double-A Bowie due to “posterior shoulder instability.” Connolly said that Harvey is not currently with the Baysox and that the Orioles want to find out if time off and rehab will resolve the discomfort. However, the severity of the problem may not be known yet and so there is no timetable for Harvey’s return.
Perhaps related and perhaps not, Harvey was bad in his most recent outing for the Baysox. The 23-year-old righty had been planned to go three innings on June 1, MASN’s Roch Kubatko wrote at the time, and was only able to complete two innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and a walk on that occasion, with two home runs allowed.
UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina reported that Harvey suffered the injury during a game where he wasn’t even pitching when he dodged a foul ball that went into the Baysox dugout, leading to the shoulder popping out of its socket. Encina added that the team should have a better idea about the severity of the injury in two weeks.
As the Orioles start to really ramp up the discussions about trading Manny Machado, the injury to Harvey is a reminder that they are not blessed with a settled starting rotation in the near future. If in the spring they were counting on Harvey by August or for next year, they should re-think that timetable.
A 2011 meta-study in the journal Sports Health described competitive athletes as the most at risk for this injury, which was frequently misdiagnosed in the past. The conclusion that if there is no improvement after six months, patients should be considered for surgery.
Hopefully things don’t take that long to resolve for Harvey, and hopefully a shoulder surgery is not what is necessary. Until the Orioles figure it out, Harvey remains an even bigger question mark than he already was.