It’s not surprising Matt Harvey has been an early topic in spring training, but for once the most compelling question about him isn’t: Will it ever happen for him?
We are six years removed from 2012 when Harvey made his major league debut with Cy Young expectations. We may never see that Harvey again, and but I believe his thoughts this year are more about his contract year than it carrying the Mets.
Ken Davidoff, the very talented baseball columnist for The Post, wrote about Harvey “just trying for a graceful exit,’’ and he couldn’t be closer to the truth.
Seriously, does anybody really believe Harvey will suddenly pitch injury free all year, win up to 17 games, and NOT leave the Mets next winter as a free agent?
I’ve always thought he’d bolt for the Yankees the first chance he got, but maybe they won’t want him. Even so, I’d be shocked if he pitched healthy and well and stayed with the Mets. It doesn’t even matter if he signs with the Yankees or not, he’s gone.
So far, the first impression of manager Mickey Callaway is a good one. I especially liked when he said: “He might never be the Dark Knight again, but the Mets don’t need that from him. … We need the best version of who Matt is today, and that person is going to be good enough.’’
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but that has to be Harvey’s motivation. He must take measured steps and that begins in spring training.
Don’t rush him, just concentrate on the mechanics Callaway said he could fix. It could take time, something Harvey wasn’t given last season.
Last spring, in his comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, Harvey was clocked throwing in the mid-80s, then pitching coach Dan Warthen said not to expect from him to reach his full strength and his velocity to reach the 90s until the end of May at the earliest.
Of course, that didn’t happen because GM Sandy Alderson ignored him and had Harvey on the Opening Day roster. Since Harvey was forced to pitch earlier than he was physically able, and, broke down again.
In addition to his physical breakdowns, Harvey has been a diva and hasn’t always treated his teammates well, such as blowing off a game and being suspended.
Harvey played it smart when he said: “New year. People make mistakes. I’m looking forward to a new season.’’
However, he unwisely didn’t address free agency and will undoubtedly be asked about it numerous times despite him saying he wouldn’t respond to the question.
Instead, he should have said, “I have thought about it. I am open to returning to the Mets [even if he isn’t, a lie is better than a no comment]. This the only time I will address it this season.’’
He did say: “I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I’m ready to go.’’
Personally, I hope it doesn’t reach that stage. I hope it reaches the “graceful exit,’’ Davidoff wrote about, but I think I think the best thing for both sides is for Harvey to prove he’s healthy, pitches well and is traded at the deadline.
The Mets are hedging their bets on Harvey, which explains in part why they signed free-agent lefty Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16-million contract.
Vargas is 35, and the Mets gave him the extra year in preparation for Harvey leaving, whether in July or next January.