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Sunday, August 25, 2013
Mets try to strike a balance with Harvey

By Matt Ehalt

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets want to get Matt Harvey through September.

They also want to restrict their ace's innings in order to ensure a prosperous future.

It's a delicate balance the team will have to deal with over the final 35 games of the 2012 season.

"You've got a guy who is one of the best competitors I've ever been around who thoroughly wants to pitch nine innings every night he's out there," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Yet, you've got to take into consideration what's the best interest of the club, the team at the time, and the organization down the road. How to get this guy through it?"

After surrendering 13 hits against Detroit on Sunday, the most he's ever allowed, Harvey, in his first full season, acknowledged he's 'pretty tired." Harvey has thrown 178 1/3 innings this season, flirting with triple-digit pitches in a lot of those outing, and has started 26 games.

Harvey threw a career-high 169 1/3 innings spanning the minors and majors last year, and he's expected to throw somewhere in the 205-215 innings range this season. That would project to a more than 20 percent increase from 2012 to this year, which is about the normal innings bump for young pitchers.

While the Mets could simply let Harvey hit the quota and then shut him down the remainder of the year, they want him to gain the experience of pitching through an entire season. They want him to know what it's like to be tired and take the ball in a late-September game.

"You're trying to win games, we're trying to put people in the seats out there, and having Matt Harvey out there every five days helps us," Collins said. "We still know down the road we've got to keep this guy healthy."

Collins said the team can back off on bullpen sessions and running to help ease the fatigue, and can also keep a close eye on Harvey's workload during games. Harvey can also be handed extra days of rest, and could potentially be skipped. His next start is scheduled for Thursday vs. the Phils.

"All that stuff has to be considered, but there's no one answer," Collins said.

The manager added it would be counterproductive to have Harvey, a hard thrower, tone it down during his starts. Collins said the pitching coaches keep a close eye on Harvey's mechanics, as changes in arm angle would alert the team that Harvey needs a break.

FLORES GET A DAY: Wilmer Flores is out of the lineup on Sunday as Collins gives the youngster a day to rest his injured right ankle, which he sprained on Aug. 12. Justin Turner will play third.

Flores said his ankle feels good and said he's getting treatment every day. Collins plans to play him at second base in the upcoming series against the Phillies. While Flores has exclusively played at third for the Mets, he primarily played second base in the minors this year.