As right-hander Matt Harvey continues to rehab from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, he also keeps dropping hints that he wants to try and pitch in a major league game this season. He did this again Wednesday after a 27-pitch bullpen session in Florida. The New York Mets consistent reply has been no, Harvey needs to wait until 2015 for the sake of safety alone.
On Thursday, Mets manager Terry Collins told Harvey, via a phone conversation reported by ESPN's Adam Rubin, to stop asking about pitching in 2014.
"He wants to try to get back here to help," Collins said about Harvey. "And I explained to him, 'I understand that. But ... you have got to understand the big picture. And the big picture is 2015. So back off."
Well! And furthermore, no more radio interviews during Mets games!
He did a radio interview that night with ESPN New York 98.7 while the Mets game against the Washington Nationals was in progress, which caught his manager off-guard when questioned about it postgame. Despite organization pronouncements that it is unwise to pitch in a game this season, Harvey reiterated in the radio interview that logging innings in 2014 remains his aim.
Collins' point about the interviews: Doing them for a competitor's radio station while the team is playing a game doesn't look good — if the Mets are supposed to be "all in this thing together." Not to mention, it might put a crimp in the ratings!
The Mets' "big picture" is 2015 because they're not realistically contending for the playoffs this season. By spring training, Harvey will be out of the 12-16 month danger zone that Tommy John rehab patients go through. It will be safer, it will be more prudent, it will have a bigger payoff — personally and for the team — if Harvey simply waits. The Mets are right, even if Harvey's spirit says they're not.
Harvey's health is one side of this story, and the Mets really can't lose by being conservative, prudent curmudgeons about it. Safety first. But the other side of the story: Harvey defying the curmudgeonly Mets at seemingly every single turn, might turn into a big deal at some point. Harvey and the team bicker about everything, from social media to locker placement, to rehab location, to who and how Harvey does interviews, to who knows what else behind the scenes.
So what's going to happen in 2015 when the Mets try to curb Harvey's pitch count, or his innings, or his any of activities, as part of the rehab process? What if they say he's done at 180 innings? Or in September? What if the Mets are in a pennant race and Harvey needs to "back off" again?
Get ready for more bickering!
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