BALTIMORE — The Orioles aren’t prescribing surgery for pitching prospect Hunter Harvey after the 2013 first-round pick experienced elbow stiffness over the weekend in Sarasota.
The 20-year-old right-hander traveled to Baltimore to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam and to be examined by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs on Wednesday. Recovering from a fractured lower leg suffered late in spring training, Harvey left an extended spring start after only two innings last Sunday.
Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism about the MRI results and prognosis, but Harvey’s 2014 season also ended prematurely due to a flexor mass strain in his right forearm.
“It was pretty good news, all things considered,” Showalter said after Wednesday’s 6-1 win over Toronto. “There’s nothing that we feel requires surgery. We’ll see if they want to get another opinion.”
Showalter would not directly answer whether tests revealed structural damage to the ulnar collateral ligament, which creates doubt whether rest alone will do the trick for the talented young pitcher. Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy’s eventual need for Tommy John surgery in 2013 began with a similar diagnosis to what Harvey experienced late last season.
Of course, surgery isn’t foolproof and should always be considered a last resort, and there have been cases of rehabilitation doing the trick, even if there is slight damage to the UCL.
“I know they’re going to take some time off and we’ll see if he wants to get a second opinion,” said Showalter, who added that he expects Harvey to pitch again this year. “We feel confident that if that happens, it will concur with what our people say.
“Obviously, I know a lot more, but he’s not going to be throwing for a little while. He’s going to take some time, but we don’t feel like there’s anything else but rest prescribed at this point.”