On the Road with Peoria: Ryan Harvey

GENEVA, Ill. - Top outfield prospect Ryan Harvey continues to receive treatment for back spasms that landed him on the 7-day disabled list on Friday. The Peoria Chiefs' right fielder has been sidelined since the injury occurred on May 1 against Kane County. "I hit a ground ball to third, ran to first, bent down to pick up my shin guard, and then it locked up on me," Harvey said. "It has been bad ever since."

The 2003 first round draft pick has been undergoing muscle stimulation and ultra sounds to improve his back. Harvey also receives daily massage treatments.

This is a rough time for the slugger to go down with the Chiefs (12-18) tied for last place in the Western Division of the Class-A Midwest League. Peoria has already played without starters Ryan Norwood, Sam Fuld and Eric Patterson due to injuries this season, and Harvey's absence could have a strong effect on the team.

"It seems every year if I start hitting well and am doing all right out on the field, I hurt something," Harvey said. "It has been a rough haul."

Harvey has had a history of injuries so far in his career, having sustained ACL, hamstring and shin complications since high school. Back problems, however, are new to Harvey.

"It started out really tight," Harvey said. "There are a lot of muscle spasms in my lower back, so I can't really do much. Each day gets a little better, but it's still real tight. I think the muscle spasms have gone down. I have to go see the doctor (today) and hopefully I'll get back to playing within a week."

It goes without saying that Harvey was, and still is, one of the Chiefs' top hitters. The native of Clearwater, Fla., is leading the team with five home runs and 16 RBI. He has a strong .280 batting average with an even .500 slugging percentage through his first 21 games.

"I try to be a good hitter with power," Harvey said. "My power is obviously a big part of my game; it determines what the pitcher throws to me and what approach they take with pitching to me."

Last season, Harvey played 61 games at short-season Class-A Boise, where he batted .264 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI in the regular season. This year, he is in the process of getting accustomed to playing every day for six months.

"There's not really that much of a difference … everyone is the same age and the longer season takes more of a toll on all of our bodies," Harvey said. "I am trying to be quieter with my approach at the plate and seeing the ball better. I'm just trying to slow everything down, recognize the pitch, and put a good swing on it."

When Harvey and the rest of the currently injured Chiefs return to the lineup, the team will finally have the top prospects they were counting on all season.

"We'll be there," Harvey said. "We are starting to get into the swing of things and hitting when runners are in scoring position. Our pitching will come around also; we have some really good pitchers on this team, so once they start getting into the groove, we'll start coming around and winning some games."

As a sixth overall pick, Harvey understands the natural progression he will go through before reaching the big stage.

"It's fun (being at Class-A)," Harvey said. "It's good competition. Hopefully, I can keep moving up the ranks and get to the big leagues some day. The Cubs said they didn't want to move me up too quickly and that's probably a good idea. I do not want to get up there and not be ready, and then get moved down and keep going up and down.

"We have some good guys in the organization. When they think I'm ready, I'll be there."

Scott Sabin is the contributing editor of Inside The Ivy. He joined the Chiefs over the weekend in Kane County for their series with the Cougars. Write to Scott at scott@insidetheivy.com.

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