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Orioles recall McFarland to help out bullpen

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Orioles recall McFarland to help out bullpen

BOSTON – Ten days after he was optioned to Norfolk, T.J. McFarland is back. When he was sent down, manager Buck Showalter said that he wanted McFarland, who had started earlier in the season for the Tides, to pitch out of the bullpen.

That’s what McFarland does for the Orioles when he’s here. He threw five scoreless innings during his time with Norfolk.

“I ended up going to the bullpen and then I was able to get two outings out of the bullpen there. It’s good because then I can get used to doing the same role that I’m doing to help the team here,” McFarland said.

McFarland was 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 10 games with the Orioles and 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA in nine games with the Tides.

The Orioles have made a host of transactions involving relievers this month, and McFarland said he tries not to get caught up in guessing when he might return.

“It’s kind of hard. You can’t really play that game when you’re down there and look at the chess pieces and look at what’s going to happen. You just kind of have to focus on what you’re doing down there, which I was. Just basically trying to get outs, just trying to get back to what I normally do, which is throw strikes and get outs. But yeah I’m extremely happy that it worked out this way and I’m here now,” McFarland said.

To make room for McFarland, Oliver Drake was optioned to Norfolk. Drake, who was active for the last two games, did not pitch in either game. In his first stint with the team, from May 23 to June 3, Drake was 0-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five games.

MORE ORIOLES: Showalter not committing to date on Schoop's return

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Hunter Harvey’s Major League debut a bright spot in long Orioles season

Hunter Harvey’s Major League debut a bright spot in long Orioles season

For some first-round draft picks, the Major Leagues are merely a season or two away. Other top prospects take longer, sometimes three or four seasons. Hunter Harvey’s path was a bit more complicated than that.

It was more than six years ago that Harvey was selected by the Orioles in the 2013 MLB Draft. Early in his professional career, he looked like a potential steal as the 22nd pick in that year’s class. He dominated hitters at the lower levels of the minor leagues, and looked like a future staple atop the Orioles rotation.

Of course, there’s a reason the old adage “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” exists.

Harvey missed the entire 2015 season with elbow tightness, then pitched just 12.2 innings in 2016 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He threw only 18.2 innings in 2017 after his recovery, so he entered the 2018 season having tossed just 144.1 innings in five years since being drafted.

Harvey was still used as a starter in 2018 across 32.1 mostly unspectacular innings, but this season, the front office decided to try him out as a reliever.

Early on, it’s been a terrific transition for Harvey, whose natural arm talent plays up even more in shorter stints. And it was out of the bullpen that Harvey finally, after all these years, made his big league debut Saturday.

And what a debut it was.

Working around a walk, Harvey tossed a hitless, scoreless inning against the heart of the vaunted Red Sox lineup. He averaged over 98 mph on his fastball, while flashing potential plus offspeed pitches. 

Harvey ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, a stretch that included nine consecutive strikes.

The Orioles haven’t had many positive moments to point to in 2019, but this definitely qualifies as one. If he can harness his incredible stuff and -- here’s the key -- stay healthy, Harvey could be a dominant late-inning reliever, or potentially even a mid-rotation starter.

Of all the players to wear the orange and black in Baltimore this season, Harvey is one of the few who can stick around long enough to contribute to the next great Orioles team.

More than any excitement surrounding his future, it’s just cool to see somebody overcome countless obstacles to realize their dreams.

That experience wasn’t lost on Harvey himself.

From his incredible mullet, to his long and winding road to the Majors, there’s a lot to cheer for with Harvey. If he can replicate his debut inning a few more times this season, then fans in Baltimore will have to admit he was worth the wait.

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

Well, dang. We did not expect to need tissues for this video.

When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was in the midst of the worst slump in Major League Baseball history, it often felt from afar like nothing could pull him out of his doldrums. It was difficult to watch Davis make the worst kind of history, knowing there was nothing fans can do to help.

Apparently, that was a mistake. All it took was a letter.

Henry Frasca, a diehard Red Sox fan, hated watching Davis struggle. So, when the O’s were in town to play his favorite team, he decided to write Davis a letter of encouragement.

The note made its way to Davis, who kept it with him. Inspired by the kind words, Davis had a breakout day at the plate, driving in four runs one his first three hits of 2019. The longtime Oriole has kept the letter with him ever since.

Frasca was unaware of the specific impact his message made, but as the Orioles returned to Fenway Park once again, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is, frankly, one of the coolest things we’ve seen in a long time. Frasca is just nine years old, but his view on the world and, specifically, helping those in need is both mature beyond his years and inspiring to the adults around him.

The most impressive part of the letter, as Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne highlights in his interview, is the idea that how Davis is playing on the field does not define the person he is off it.

It’s an insightful message, one that’s easy for even grown men and women to forget when cheering on their favorite players from afar. For someone so young, who roots for a rival team, to recognize it so early is mighty impressive.

The video is five minutes long, but well worth every second of your time. Well done to the Orioles, Thorne, Davis, and of course, Frasca most of all.

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