As spring training rapidly approaches, perhaps the New York Mets’ most interesting bid of news this week, was Matt Harvey’s statements he expects to start throwing Feb. 22, a week after pitchers and catchers report.
“They said I should be able to start throwing four months after the surgery, and that’s Feb. 22,’’ Harvey said. “|And I haven’t had any setbacks. I can’t wait. Even if it’s 10 feet, I just want to pick up a ball. As if right now, I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to do that.’’
The worry about Harvey is he’ll push the envelope. The accepted recovery time for rehab from Tommy John surgery is 12 months, which Harvey said he wants to beat.
Nonetheless, he vows not to push it.
“I completely agree that I shouldn’t come back too soon,’’ Harvey said. “I haven’t touched a baseball yet, so I don’t know how things are going to go once that happens. But if things are still progressing and it shows I’m ready to go and I get cleared, I want to be able to play.’’
There’s the rub.
The dilemma is hypothetical: What will the Mets do if they find themselves in wild-card contention in September? Will they keep him down or let him loose?
Already in his young career Harvey has tried to pitch through, and/or ignore pain. He didn’t say anything after tweaking his back and missed a start. Later, he said nothing about soreness in his forearm, which eventually led to the surgery.
Pitchers must learn to differentiate between pain and injury. Nonetheless, he must be more forthcoming in reporting pain and discomfort to the training staff. He’s not informed or trained enough to make his own diagnosis.
A pitcher’s arm is a fragile and precious thing. Harvey has a bright future and the last thing he needs to do is jeopardize it by being reckless with his health, which can be concluded by his comments about wanting to be able to pitch in September.
Regardless of where the Mets are in the standings or how well they are playing in September, Harvey should not be allowed to pitch this year. There should be no discussion or consideration about it.
The Mets have a reputation of playing fast and loose with injuries – see David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and Johan Santana, among others – and with their future seemingly on the upswing, don’t blow it now.
Everybody needs to be smart about this, even if it comes down to protecting Harvey from himself.