NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Matt Harvey is many things — headstrong, determined, even stubborn.
But he’s also apparently very convincing, so much so that he may actually talk the Mets into allowing him to pitch this season, something that seemed a fantasy not too long ago but now is looking more and more like it could become reality.
Harvey had Tommy John surgery to repair the partially torn ulnar-collateral ligament in his right elbow on Oct. 22. Most everyone figured the ace right-hander would miss the standard year of playing time all pitchers miss after undergoing the procedure. Due to the timing of Harvey’s surgery late October or early November of 2014 would almost certainly be after the Mets’ season ended. He’d then have additional time to work himself back into shape so that he’d be ready for spring training in 2015 with no limitations.
Harvey has been against that plan since the beginning. He initially sparred with the Mets about his timetable for a return and where he would do his workouts. Eventually, the sides met in the middle.
He recently told Sports Illustrated he wants to start anywhere from five to seven games this season, a desire that seems to jive with him increasing his long-toss distance to 120 feet and saying he will throw off a mound on June 10.
“For me health is going to be the most important thing,” Harvey told the Daily News. “If I can come back healthy in 10 or 11 months, I’ll come back healthy in just 10 or 11 months.”
Harvey’s declarations have excited some in the fan base, but most have chalked it up to Harvey believing he’s indestructable and more confident in his abilities than usual.
However, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday he’s not ruling out Harvey’s return this season.
“I don’t think the original schedule has changed. He is still scheduled to go on the mound in early June,” Alderson said. “Whether he comes back this year or next will be a function of how he rehabs once he gets back on the mound. It will also be subject to the best medical information we can obtain, from our doctors and whatever other information that is out there that might shed light on what’s an appropriate recovery time.”
In other words, if Harvey continues at his current pace and suffers no setbacks there’s a good chance he could pitch for the Mets sometime in September.
The 25-year-old right-hander told the Daily News he would never risk his long-term health just to prove he can beat the Tommy John surgery recovery timetable, but added if the Mets are in contention for something he’d certainly be more inclined to push the envelope.
“I am not going to jeopardize my career to come back early, if that’s not where I am physically at,” he said. “Definitely if the team is doing well and we have a legitimate shot of playing forward, that obviously makes you a little more aggressive toward coming back.”
Harvey said he would expect to have a better understanding of what he might be capable of after he throws off a mound.
“I think there’s a lot that needs to go into the process for a return to happen,” Harvey said. “Obviously I haven’t thrown off a mound yet and I don’t know how I am going to feel after that. I know the incline makes a difference in how guys feel and how guys recover.”
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