Q&A with Ryan Harvey

DAYTONA BEACH — Cubs outfield prospect Ryan Harvey was back in the Florida State League and Class A Daytona on Thursday night after spending nearly two months in Arizona recovering from a hamstring injury.

The 22-year-old Harvey, the Cubs' first-round draft pick from Dunedin (Fla.) High School in 2003, had been in Arizona since mid-May before returning to Daytona on Thursday and proceeding to make his first start back with the team in the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Lucie Mets.

Harvey finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout to lower his batting average to .234 through just 13 games this season. But prior to the injury, the Cubs had reported good progress in Harvey's swing.

"He's cleaned up his mechanics and was handling the strike zone better," Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller said of Harvey, who fanned 125 times in 475 at-bats a season ago.

"I think he was back on the right road, working some things out with his swing and understanding exactly what he needs to do," said Keller.

Harvey played in 122 games last year with Daytona, batting .248 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs. He spent time on the disabled list nursing a similar hamstring injury, and after missing virtually all of Spring Training this past March, he remained in Mesa until late April before rejoining Daytona for a short visit that lasted approximately just over two weeks.

If not for the setback(s) this season, it is possible that Harvey would already have been at Double-A Tennessee by now.

"Really, he was ticketed to go there," noted Keller, "but he missed all of Spring Training so it was very frustrating for him just like all of us."

Inside The Ivy visited with Harvey during Thursday's doubleheader and got his thoughts on his return from the DL, and more.

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Q: The Cubs say that you had cleaned up your mechanics and were handling the strike zone much better before you were sidelined by the hamstring injury. Are you happy with the work you've put in?

A: It was mostly about getting out there and getting my leg healthy. I was starting to hit a little better than I had been and I was starting to see the ball a little better. I was taking the right pitches and was able to see balls and strikes better. It was a little disappointing when it (the injury) happened, because I had the hamstring give me problems (last year). Then to have the same thing happen ... it was just more defeating than anything.

Q: How are you feeling now? Is the hamstring 100 percent yet?

A: It's pretty good. I'd say it's about 90 or 95 percent right now. I'm still a little hesitant on it; I've only played four games so far. I should be back to 100 percent in a couple of days or so.

Q: Were you ever afraid that you weren't going to make it back this year?

A: No, they pretty much told me my timeframe was six to eight weeks, so I just concentrated on getting it strong and healthy so that I could get back as soon as possible. I knew that I had at least two months left in the season, so I really wasn't worried about not getting back. I was hoping to come out here to Daytona after Spring Training, get a couple of good games in, and then get up to Double-A. But the hamstring really changed things again.

Q: What activities did the hamstring effect most during your rehab?

A: Really just the running. You don't hear a lot of guys complaining about hurting their hamstring while they were hitting. That was most important to me because 99 percent of baseball is running.

Q: You mentioned Double-A, and it seemed that was the track you were on before the hamstring acted up again. Do you think there is still a possibility for you to advance before the end of the summer?

A: Oh yeah, I'm definitely still looking up (there). There is no reason for me to get down on myself and say that there is no chance because it's late or whatever. I still have a lot of baseball left, about 60 games, to go out there and give it my best.

Q: With the outfield situation being so crowded at the top, does that put any more pressure on you to perform and show the people in Chicago what you can do?

A: Not really, because I've shown everyone what I can do for the past three years. They know what I can do and what I'm capable of. I just have to work on raising my batting average, and work on my strikeouts right now. You've always got to try and see more pitches to get more pitches to hit; then you can do what you can with them.

Q: You pitched a little bit back in high school. Has anyone in the organization ever suggested you take that strong outfield arm of yours and put it back on a mound?

A: (laughs) No, no, (but) I had a couple of guys joking around with me and telling me that I might have to if my legs don't hold up.

Q: Do you liken yourself to anyone at the big league level? We had heard from Dave Keller that you see a little Paul Konerko in you.

A: The one guy that I've always liked is Frank Thomas. When he hit his 500th home run, it really makes you realize what he has done in the big leagues. It just baffles you to see things like that because you don't really realize all of the stuff that these guys do. I want to be a .300 guy; I want to have the power numbers, and a guy like Frank Thomas is just the total package.

Q: Is there any one of your tools that you feel is the most important for you to develop as you work your way up through the system?

A: It's all about the daily routine and trying to get the most out of your ability. I really don't go out there thinking I need to make this stronger or that stronger; it's just trying to improve every part of your game.

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