PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With the camera lens pointed at him on a back field at the Mets’ spring-training complex, Matt Harvey tossed a baseball for the first time since last summer. The first throw was on target to bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello, who was standing 60 feet away.
Harvey proceeded to make 20 tosses on flat ground from that distance, the prescribed amount for his first session since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22.
New York Mets
Harvey suggested he had excitement, not anxiety with his first toss.
“I didn’t know if I was going to sail it into the fans or whatnot, but it was right where I wanted it,” Harvey said Saturday afternoon. “That made everything a lot easier.”
Harvey expects to repeat the early throwing regimen alongside fellow Tommy John rehabber Jeremy Hefner three times a week for now, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“It was awesome,” Harvey said about the first session. “I know it was 20 throws at 60 feet, but everything felt absolutely amazing. I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a tough process [even] with how things felt today. But I’ve got to stick with it and move forward.”
That the first tosses came on the four-month anniversary of the surgery was meaningful to Harvey. He had identified that date earlier this winter as his target. Hefner, by comparison, began throwing this week six months after his Tommy John surgery.
“Usually when I kind of aim toward a date I strive for that pretty well,” Harvey said. “Fortunately enough I was able to throw today.
“I felt very good,” the ace continued. “I’m kind of surprised, actually. Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously the first throw was right where I wanted it. Things went really well.”
Harvey suggested he will focus on command early in his throwing program, which will cause him not to stress over velocity right now.
“There’s a little guy in the back of my head saying, ‘Don’t go too strong.’ He’s usually the one who’s right,” Harvey said. “Obviously feeling good and as competitive as I am, I always wanted to push more. But ‘Jiminy Cricket’ was telling me, 'no' in the back of my head. …
“You hear of guys who the last thing to come is command. I showed a little bit last year -- with the lack of walks that I was fortunate enough to give up -- that command is a big thing. If I can really concentrate on that, I think that will kind of tone things back also. Instead of worrying about how hard it’s coming out, or how everything feels, it’s more concentrating on that one spot. From there we can build on it.”
Harvey said the surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, involved taking a right wrist tendon and wrapping it around the damaged elbow ligament three times.
"I feel brand new. Absolutely brand new," Harvey said. "... I technically have four ligaments in there, I guess. They're happy with one or two wraps. Mine was long enough where he could wrap it three times."
Harvey added that he is on board with Sandy Alderson’s proclamation that the ace should not be a focus in 2014.
“I don’t want to have to do this every time I pick up a ball,” Harvey said, referring to Saturday’s media session. “I don’t think that’s fair to me. I don’t think it’s fair to the team.
“These guys are working hard. They’re still trying to get 25 guys on the field. I’m not going to let this be a story about my rehab process. This is about them going forward and them moving. And if it just so happens that I can help them out later in the season, then there’s another story down the road. As of now, this is about them and them getting ready and winning ballgames in 2014.”
Harvey said he does not look at the full script for his rehab, because if there is a prescribed milestone two months down the road -- say, getting on a mound -- he will try too hard to hit that marker rather than listen to his body.
As for his personal belief about whether he will pitch in 2014, Harvey said: “I’d like to, obviously. Anytime you’re a competitive pitcher or player, staying out a whole season is the last thing you want to do. Obviously today was 60 feet with 20 throws, so I can’t really predict how things are going to go in the future. I can only go throw by throw and day by day and see what happens. …
“If, somehow, I’m good to go in August, then more power to the process. As of now, it was Day 1, so I’ve got to keep things slow. If they keep progressing, then you never know.”