PORT ST. LUCIE — The radar gun hung numbers over Matt Harvey on Sunday. In his first spring start, eight months after major surgery and since he last faced major leaguers, the digits flashing on the scoreboard showed that the Mets righthander was not there yet.
So Friday, the Mets simply did not show the radar gun readings on the scoreboard. Terry Collins said that was not his doing, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing either.
“I don’t know. I know some pitchers, and I am not saying Matt does this, but some have a habit of looking at how hard they are throwing,” the Mets manager said after explaining that he had no idea who turned off the radar gun. “The one thing we don’t want to have happen here (is the focus on velocity). We’ve got to get Matt to pitch, because the velocity will come and when it does, we know he’s going to be right.
“There were guys in the stands with radar guns; we knew how hard he threw,” Collins said. “We were very happy with the results.”
According to two scouts at the game Friday, Harvey’s fastball sat at around 92-93 mph and topped out at 94 for the second straight start. Collins said that the Mets’ internal data showed Harvey’s fastball was up “a click or two.”
While he clearly didn’t have the same zip to the fastball as he did in his 2013 All-Star season, Harvey did look more like himself on Friday against the Astros.
He fought with fastball command, but his breaking balls were sharper and he was more efficient as he got through three innings. Harvey allowed one run, a Reid Brignac homer to right field, on two hits. He walked one and struck out two, throwing 41 pitches, 24 for strikes.
Harvey was pleased with the progress from his first start.
“I think the strength is there,” Harvey said. “I feel great in between starts, I am not getting sore at all, doing my long toss normally. Obviously I wish it could be there right away.
“I’ve built up the strength, it’s definitely (heading in) in the right direction.”
Harvey is dealing with the relatively rare rehab from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The surgery removes a rib to allow for better circulation in the arm and relieve the condition, which compresses the blood flow and nerves from the shoulder to the arm. TOS forced older pitchers like Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter into retirement. For Chris Young, however, having the surgery saved his career and allowed him to win a World Series with the Royals over the Mets in 2015.
Harvey already made a successful return from 2013 Tommy John surgery, but this is very different. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said that he is happy with where Harvey is in his recovery, rehab and preparation for 2017.
“Maybe it will be the end of spring training before we see high-end velocity,” Warthen said, “but he can pitch with where he is at right now.”
And that is the focus for Harvey and the Mets as he tries to build up his arm strength.
He used his four pitches and getting command of them. Last season, with his rib cutting off circulation to his right hand, Harvey would lose feeling in his fingers and struggled with commanding those pitches.
“It’s nice to go out there and throw 97 to 100 or whatnot, but you’ve got to figure out how to pitch and how to pitch at what you have, that specific day,” Harvey said “And just being out there, it’s been awhile since I faced hitters and been in competition like that.
“For me I think it’s only a matter of time.”
Harvey’s fastball touched 100 in 2013 before he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John and sat around 96 in 2015 in his comeback, but Collins said that Harvey has always been more than a hard-thrower.
“We said this for a long time. When this guy was right, even though he had the ability to throw real hard, he’s a pitcher, because he knows how to use all his pitches,” Collins said. “He uses his slider; he’s got a good curveball, a very good changeup. With the velocity he is sitting right now if he locates it, he can pitch.”
Friday the Mets made sure that Harvey velocity was literally hanging over him on the scoreboard, but even without that, the questions about it are still there.
Published at Fri, 10 Mar 2017 23:18:57 +0000