Former Closer Thinks N.Y. Ace Should Have Surgery Now

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former New York Mets closer Billy Wagner thinks Matt Harvey should forget about rehab and just bite the bullet on reconstructive elbow surgery.

Harvey, the Mets’ 24-year-old ace, has decided to put off Tommy John surgery in favor of a strengthening and throwing program. Wagner says it might be better for all parties if Harvey’s partially torn UCL goes completely kaput.

“If it blew out, it would probably be beneficial to both of them, because then you can just fix it and be done with it,” Wagner told the New York Post. “Now they are just having that waiting game to see if it’s going to happen. He’s an awesome young kid and the way the arm is, you come back better most times.”

After attempting rehab, Wagner underwent Tommy John surgery during the final month of the 2008 season. The now-retired reliever said there was “a big difference” once he tried to pitch near full strength.

“If he goes out there and tries to push through or you get somebody who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, and they’re telling him to push through it a little bit, all that garbage he doesn’t need to deal with,” Wagner told the paper. “He’s not going to be able to go out there and throw 115 pitches and five days later not think about it, because it’s going to hurt. I would just do (the surgery) and be done with it.”

Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain faced a similar decision in 2011 and opted for surgery.

“I just hope Matt is mentally where he needs to be,” Chamberlain told the Post.

That was in question Wednesday after Harvey’s bizarre interview on “The Dan Patrick Show.” The pitcher refused to talk about his elbow, making it clear he was on the show only to promote the tech company Qualcomm.

“We can set up another call if you’d like to about that subject, but today we’re honoring and supporting Qualcomm,” Harvey said.

He later apologized for the spot.

Meanwhile, Mets manager Terry Collins believes that if Harvey wants to be ready for Opening Day, then Harvey will be ready for Opening Day.

“This guy showed up in spring training and he had a goal. He wanted to show people he was one of the best pitchers in the game. Then when the season started his goal changed to ‘Hey look, I want to start the All-Star Game.’ He’s met both those goals. I don’t put anything past this guy,” Collins told WFAN radio’s Mike Francesa. “I think he’s bound and determined to avoid surgery. I think he will do what it takes to make sure his arm is healthy and strong before he does it.

“I told one of the coaches today: ‘Guys, I would not be afraid to have someone bet me that Matt Harvey will be the opening day pitcher,’ because I think he will be.”

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