NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Matt Harvey wants to make sure he’s on the mound in late October — if the New York Mets get there for the first time since 2006.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, New York’s ace says he is willing to accept extra days off between starts or even skipping turns in the rotation in order to be available for the postseason.
“I don’t think it’s going to be easy to skip starts,” he said Wednesday in the Mets clubhouse. “I don’t think any pitcher is going to want to really do that. But to be able to pitch in October is going to be more important.”
Harvey hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 24, 2013, and the right-hander is recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery that Oct. 22. He pitched off the Citi Field mound while working out in September, reaching 95 mph, and has been throwing on flat ground at the ballpark six days a week. He expects to resume throwing off a mound in mid-December in preparation for reporting to spring training around Feb. 1, several weeks ahead of the team’s official workouts.
The 25-year-old Harvey doesn’t want to be in the position of Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who had Tommy John surgery in September 2010, returned the following September and was unhappy when the Nationals ended his 2012 season after he reached 159 1-3 innings on Sept. 7. Strasburg was forced to watch as Washington was eliminated by St. Louis in a five-game NL Division Series.
“Realistically, throwing 200 innings in the regular season is probably not likely, but because of the 17-month recovery time I think we can kind of manage things a little bit differently than Strasburg did,” Harvey said.
New York is contemplating having Harvey take extra days off, calling up pitchers from the minor leagues to have him skip starts or mandating a midseason break.
“The last thing I would want to do is have to sit on my hands, of not being able to pitch in the postseason. Whatever needs to be done to get us there, I’m all for,” Harvey said. “I think if you were to map out a whole season, you’re going to have to figure out some changes throughout the year in order to get to a certain point. If you make 33 starts and seven innings a start, obviously doing the math that’s over what I’m probably going to throw.”
Coming off six straight seasons with losing records, New York is counting on Harvey to head a rotation that includes Zack Wheeler and NL Rookie of the Year Jacob DeGrom.
Harvey has done extra stretching and yoga but has not yet started throwing his slider. He intends to work out in Newport Beach, California, next month at the training facility of his agent, Scott Boras, and would like to get two or three extra sessions of pitching batting practice before the exhibition schedule starts in March.
Boras and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson discussed Harvey’s rehab last month at the GM meetings in Phoenix.
“We’re going to continue to have dialogue about it and talk to Matt about it and share a lot of physicians’ opinions on how they’ve managed players like Matt,” Boras said.
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