According to several published reports, Matt Harvey said he’s aiming to return at the end of the season, which would be a foolish decision by the New York Mets.
One might argue an advantage to having Harvey pitch in 2014 is it gives the Mets an opportunity to see where he stands in his recovery, but it’s a stretch because there’s no doubt he’s in their 2015 plans.
Harvey is a given for 2015, but if there’s any doubt, that’s why Bartolo Colon received a two-year deal. Colon’s presence, coupled with the anticipated development of Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, gives the Mets flexibility in when to bring back their ace.
The normal recovery time from Tommy John surgery is a year. If the Mets really wanted Harvey back for 2015, they should have scheduled surgery immediately after the injury, but instead they messed around with the idea of Harvey resting in the hope in coming back for spring training and pitching this year.
That was a pipe dream and most people knew it, but the Mets opted to placate Harvey’s whims, which could have been disastrous had he been ready for the season but re-injured his elbow.
“When you see stories of guys coming back in 10 months, I’m going to think, ‘Hey, I can come back in nine,’ ’’ Harvey told reporters recently at an event in Boston. “Unfortunately, I don’t make those decisions. I can’t throw the uniform on and go back on the mound without the permission of higher-ups.
“That’s my personality – I always want to be out there. Like I’ve said all along, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have those answers. But of course I want to get back on the mound.’’
As much as Harvey wants to pitch this season, he said he doesn’t regret changing his mind about having surgery.
Early in his young career, Harvey has already established a reputation for pushing the envelope when it comes to his health. He said nothing after tweaking his back and ended up missing a start. He was again quiet when he developed tightness in his forearm, which led to the elbow injury and then surgery..
Then, there was his insistence in not having surgery and taking the resting route in an effort to be ready for spring training. GM Sandy Alderson said he wasn’t going to push Harvey toward the knife, but later acknowledged a sense of relief when he relented to surgery.
There will come a time this summer after a string of minor league starts when Harvey will be asked how he feels. He’ll undoubtedly say he feels good and there will be a buzz about bringing him back for a handful of starts.
The buzz would grow exceptionally loud if the Mets were over .500 and/or close to a wild card slot. In short: the better the Mets, the louder the buzz.
The Mets would be wise to ignore the buzz, as nothing can be gained by rushing back Harvey. The odds would be long – even if Harvey were to pitch in September– of getting into the playoffs. They are even longer without him, and to rush his return is foolish.
The Mets have waited a long time to return to the playoffs, but a little longer won’t kill them. Pushing the envelope on Harvey and having him getting hurt again would be devastating.
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