Against the advice of team management, New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey gave a one-on-one interview Tuesday morning with reporter Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Harvey has some beefs with club big shots, particularly about where they want him to perform his rehab from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Harvey also doesn't like that the Mets moved his spring training locker into "a closet" that he shares with another rehabbing pitcher, Jeremy Hefner. But that's almost a non-issue compared to the relatively important (to Harvey) rehab location.
Harvey wants to rehab in New York, with the team, among his teammates and in the context of the major league season. The Mets want him to continue working at their facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla. — presumably, in part, to keep him away from the media and its obnoxious habit of asking questions. The Mets don't like Harvey talking to reporters and expressing how badly he wants to pitch at some point during the 2014 seasons. They don't want him setting unreasonable goals. They want him to use caution. He just wants to get back as soon as possible.
And the best way to do that, Harvey told Martino, is to rehab in New York City:
“The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team. To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud, the catcher). To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.”
And where does the front office stand on this?
“I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time,” he said. “For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said. I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.”
Why does he say that?
“It’s just the fact that I have been not allowed to talk to anybody, and that every tweet or Instagram I send is, do not write,” Harvey said. “My locker -- me and (Jeremy Hefner, also rehabbing) was basically in a closet. I didn’t think that was right. I don’t know exactly who was in charge of the situation. [“That was a decision made by clubhouse personnel,” GM Sandy Alderson later told me].
As Martino points out, it's within Harvey's right, per the league-wide Basic Agreement with club owners, to rehab in New York if he wishes. And his reasons are compelling enough. Mostly, it's a mental/psychological deal:
The rehab process is long, arduous and often boring. Being at Citi Field every day will help Harvey visualize and focus on his goal, particularly during those moments when he might not want to exercise. Most of all, he won't feel like he's all alone in some little (however lovely) Florida town. Why in heaven's name would the Mets think Harvey would submit to Port St. Lucie? Might as well do it in the Australian bush.
By the end of Martino's post, it seemed like the Mets are going to be reasonable about this. But geez, it's like banging a big giant head that looks like a baseball against the wall with these guys sometimes.
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