PORT ST. LUCIE, F.L. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Matt Harvey gave the New York Mets a glimpse of the dominant pitcher he’s been in the past. He also showed that it might take some time to get back to that level.
Coming back from major surgery last July, the right-hander made his first spring start Sunday and opened with a perfect first inning against St. Louis. Then, the Cardinals chased him with three runs in the second.
“Overall, it’s only a matter of time,” Harvey said.
Harvey, who had a Tommy John operation in 2013, had his season cut short last year when he needed thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. The ailment occurs in the upper torso.
“Obviously, it’s been eight months since I’ve faced another team. The biggest thing was going out there and trying to, I guess, get my mechanics back against another team and hitters,” said Harvey, who was 4-10 last season. “You can go out there and do all of that with your own guys and catchers, but you can’t get to where you want to be unless you’re facing hitters.”
As Mets pitchers lined behind him to watch, Harvey warmed up in the bullpen down near left field, finished up and exchanged high-fives with his fellow hurlers. The 27-year-old former ace then welcomed a round of applause as he was introduced, then showed the Cardinals his good stuff.
He struck out Dexter Fowler looking on a 92 mph fastball. He then caught Aledmys Diaz looking on an offspeed pitch. The perfect inning concluded with a high-hopping groundout.
But Jhonny Peralta hit a long double to center to open the second and Harvey thudded a 91 mph fastball off Matt Adams’ right tricep. On a 3-0 pitch to Jose Martinez, Harvey tossed a fastball that the St. Louis first baseman launched for a three-run homer.
He recorded another strikeout and a fielder’s choice but gave up two mores singles in between to finish his day after 39 pitchers, 24 of them strikes, in 1 2/3 innings.
“For the most, I was happy with the first inning, obviously. And I was happy I bounced back after giving up some runs there. Overall, I was happy some of the pitches I made . and the way I felt and the way the ball’s coming out,” said the 2013 All-Star, who allowed four runs on four hits while striking out three.
Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t concerned with the lower 90s velocity because he believes Harvey can pitch and locate well. Collins said Harvey will have to approach his recovery differently than from the elbow surgery.
“When he came back from Tommy John, he wanted to come back shorter than anyone who’s ever come back before. I think he’s more of a realistic state now where he realizes this is a process, especially with this surgery,” Collins said.
“I think Matt knows that it’s going to take some time in spring training to get him where he wants to be when he starts the season,” he said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)