By Abby Sims
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It is difficult to understand what’s been going through Matt Harvey’s mind, even taking into consideration his competitive nature. In the fall he thought that he — unlike just about any other pitcher with a UCL tear — might be able to avoid Tommy John surgery. It seemed the Mets almost had to push Harvey to fail in order to convince him to pass up the season and go under the knife.
And now, after having undergone the procedure on Oct. 22, Harvey hoped to rush his return, jabbering about pitching in August and September to be able to see how well he performs rather than wait and wonder through the offseason.
Contradicting himself all the time, Harvey had previously been quoted as saying that though he wouldn’t want to jeopardize his career by coming back too soon, if the Mets were in it in September he would accelerate his return. Though only five games back in the division, the team is currently in the midst of a six-game losing streak. For better or worse, it doesn’t appear there will be any extra incentive there.
Thankfully, the Mets have not caved to Harvey’s pressure and sense has prevailed, delaying the pitcher’s sessions off the mound that were to commence this week.
In prior posts I’ve taken a look at the nature of UCL injuries and Dr. James Andrews’ position on the current epidemic of Tommy John surgeries amongst pitchers. I’ve written often of the risks of playing too soon and, unfortunately, my predictions of doom have been borne out by a long list of players across multiple diagnoses, including Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant and many more.
Healing takes time and the body can’t be rushed. Feeling good without the demands of an activity likely to offend is not a predictor of ultimate success. Not even a little. Though his musculature can be coaxed back to full capacity, Harvey’s new ligament isn’t likely to be at full strength until October. Rushing through a throwing program and pitching too often, at high velocities and at full capacity won’t hasten his recovery, but will prove to stress his new UCL beyond its capacity.
Unless he’d like to face a revision surgery down the road — perhaps sooner than later — Harvey would be wise to take direction from his medical team without a fight.
Follow Abby on Twitter at @ABCSimns
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