Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has been suspended 60 games without pay for violating the league’s joint drug prevention and treatment program.
The suspension, retroactive to April 29, is for “participating in the distribution of a prohibited drug of abuse,” which came to light during Harvey’s testimony in the February trial of former Los Angeles Angels employee Eric Kay for the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Kay was found guilty of two felony counts and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for distributing drugs to Skaggs, which led to the Angels pitcher’s overdose death in 2019. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, according to ESPN.
Harvey, 33, was among the players who testified they received oxycodone pills from Kay while with the Angels, though Harvey also acknowledged that he had given oxycodone to Skaggs and used cocaine during his career.
At the trial, Harvey, who spent last season with Baltimore, said he believed his testimony would threaten his career.
MLB said in February that it would conduct a review of the matter after the trial was completed, and it was reported a suspension was a possibility. In April, the Orioles signed Harvey to a minor league deal, with executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias acknowledging that Harvey was in a “very unique situation.”
“Obviously, he’s in the situation he’s in right now because of off-the-field things,” Elias said last month. “But getting to know him last year, understanding his approach to what’s gone on, our point of view is that this was something that shouldn’t prevent him from having another chance with this organization, especially with the way he conducted himself last year.”
A right-hander who started the 2013 All-Star Game and starred for the New York Mets before spending time with the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and Angels, Harvey had a 6.27 ERA in 28 starts for the Orioles in 2021 after signing a minor league deal with them in spring training. Harvey had been pitching in extended spring training games in Florida.
“We support all aspects of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and their ruling in this particular case,” Elias said in a statement Tuesday. “I am glad that Matt now has the opportunity to put this part of his past behind him and pursue another shot with our organization after serving his suspension.”
Before the Orioles’ second game of their series against the New York Yankees, they shuffled their bullpen.
Baltimore recalled right-hander Logan Gillaspie and selected left-hander Nick Vespi’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk. To create roster spots, the Orioles optioned infielder Rylan Bannon and designated left-hander Logan Allen for assignment.
Gillaspie, 25, was added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster this offseason after signing with Baltimore in June. He began his professional career in independent leagues, playing catcher, first base and shortstop in addition to pitching, before signing with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019. In nine outings between Double-A and Triple-A this year, Gillaspie had a 3.14 ERA.
Although they chose to protect Gillaspie from being exposed in the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles didn’t secure Vespi, an 18th-round pick in 2015. But because of the league’s 99-day lockout, the Rule 5 draft was canceled and Vespi remained with the organization. He didn’t allow an earned run over 14 1/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk, striking out 21 batters.
“I’ve been working on this day since 2015, so I’m excited that it’s finally here,” Vespi said. “Right now, I’m still a little numb.”
Added manager Brandon Hyde: “He’s pitching lights-out in Norfolk. … It’s nice to see somebody who’s gone down and really dominated a level and really earned his way here.”
One of five players Baltimore received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for Manny Machado in 2018, Bannon, 26, went 2-for-14 in his first major league stint. Allen, 24, made three appearances for the Orioles after they claimed him on waivers from Cleveland about two weeks ago, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings.
- Left-hander John Means was in Baltimore on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last month, stopping by the Orioles’ clubhouse and saying hello to teammates.
- First baseman Ryan Mountcastle (left wrist forearm strain) hopes to come off the 10-day injured list when first eligible this weekend.
- Outfielder Austin Hays was in the Orioles’ lineup for the first time since suffering severe cuts on his left hand when diving into first base Thursday. Shortstop Jorge Mateo, dealing with sore ribs after a collision with Detroit first baseman Spencer Torkelson on Sunday, won’t start until Wednesday at the earliest, Hyde said.
- Right-hander Dean Kremer (strained left oblique) will start Wednesday for Double-A Bowie to begin a rehab assignment. The Orioles hope to build him up to pitch multiple innings. “It’s going to take a while,” Hyde said.