Behind the scenes, the New York Mets figured right-hander Matt Harvey eventually would have surgery to repair a partially torn UCL in his elbow. They just weren't sure when, with Harvey considering non-surgical options that included intense rehab and crossing fingers — figuratively — that the ligament would hold.
But after talking to doctors again recently, the Mets reported Friday afternoon, Harvey decided to go under the knife of Dr. James Andrews later in October. As result, he likely will miss all of the 2014 season.
One of the elite pitchers in the majors in 2013, Harvey finished with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts 178 1/3 innings. He started the All-Star game for the NL, got naked for ESPN the Magazine, started dating a supermodel thanks to Twitter and did a bang-up job interviewing people on the streets of New York who had no idea who he was. He also did a horrendous interview with Dan Patrick, for which he apologized the next day.
Mostly, he was one of the three best pitchers in baseball, or so.
Being hurt is a lousy way for his year to go, but surgery is best for him in the end. The outcry from some Mets fans, already happening, will be: Why did he wait this long to do it? Why waste a month or six weeks? Why didn't the Mets make him get surgery? Grrrr!
Harvey's final start of the season came Aug. 24, and not long after, a partial ligament tear was reported. Hesitating because of the long and grueling rehab process that comes with surgery, Harvey said he wanted to try to avoid getting cut if possible. Others have continued to pitch with partial UCL tears, most notably right-hander Adam Wainwright, who lasted six years before the ligament tore completely.
Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News caught up with Wainwright in St. Louis, where the Cardinals have been playing the Pirates in the playoffs. He understands where Harvey was coming from:
"Why have surgery when you don't need it," said Wainwright, who eventually did require Tommy John surgery and has returned as the Cardinals' top pitcher. "Still, the success rate of elbow surgeries is so high, he'll be OK."
While not every UCL rehab goes perfectly, most pitchers come back good as new. Like with Wainwright. The hardest part will be the waiting. Mets fans don't want to be subjected to another morbid season, which is more likely with Harvey hurt, so they don't want to hear "be patient." But they're going to have to be with Harvey's rehab.
It's just, 2015 seems like a long time from now.