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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Morning Briefing: Harvey Day*

By Adam Rubin

NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The season already has pretty much gotten away from the Mets, but they’ll make another last stand during a three-game series in D.C. that opens Tuesday.

Surging Zack Wheeler (6-8, 3.60 ERA) opposes Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.88) at 7:05 p.m.

Wheeler is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his past six starts. He also is 1-4 with a 4.75 ERA in five career starts against Washington, which occupies first place in the division.

Read the Mets-Nats series preview here.

Meanwhile, although Matt Harvey actually already threw off the slope of a mound Friday at Citi Field, the Mets are billing the ace’s Tuesday afternoon activity in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as the real launch of the mound phase of his return from Tommy John surgery.

“It’s like the official day,” Harvey said.

The procedure was performed on Oct. 22, 2013.

Although Harvey continues to express interest in pitching even an inning in the majors this season, Sandy Alderson suggested the realistic target for a game is the low-intensity fall instructional league that spans late September and early October in Florida. Harvey also may make an appearance in the Arizona Fall League before shutting things down for the winter.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Jenrry Mejia surrendered a tiebreaking RBI double to Pablo Sandoval in the ninth and the Giants beat the Mets, 4-3, Monday to take three of four games in the series. It marked the first time this season Mejia and Jeurys Familia had allowed earned runs in the same game. Both entered Monday with lengthy scoreless-inning streaks.

Mejia experienced lower-back tightness on his left side during Monday’s appearance, but downplayed the severity.

The Mets went 3-4 on the homestand. At 53-59, the Amazin’s trail the Nationals by eight games and trail a wild-card position by seven games.

“We have to win games,” Terry Collins said after Monday’s defeat. “No, I won’t say that’s a good homestand.”

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Not only is Jacob deGrom the reigning NL co-Player of the Week, he now is the NL Rookie of the Month for July, too. DeGrom went 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA and struck out 38 and walked seven in 32 1/3 innings during the month.

• The Mets designated Bobby Abreu for assignment after Monday’s defeat and will add Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Las Vegas for Tuesday’s series opener in D.C. Abreu, 40, had been 0-for-his-last-22 as a pinch hitter. He hopes to continue his major league career and plans to play winter ball in Venezuela, but also would be interested in serving as a hitting coach one day. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post wants Chris Young out, too. Writes Vaccaro:

The continuing presence of Young on this roster smacks of contradiction. Alderson has talked tough for years about demanding a culture of accountability on this club. Four months into a season that now sits six games under .500 after Monday’s dyspeptic 4-3 loss to the Giants, Young has plainly shown that his five-year tumble was no aberration, and it should be clear to Alderson that his gamble belongs with the rest of the torn-up tickets at Aqueduct.

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests that while there is promise, the Mets also will have to live with growing pains from young players.

• Hard-throwing lefty reliever Jack Leathersich was promoted from Binghamton to Vegas. John Gant, who took a perfect-game bid into the seventh inning in his most recent start with Savannah, was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week.

Logan Verrett took a shutout bid into the ninth inning and Matt den Dekker with 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a walk as Las Vegas beat Sacramento, 4-2. Maikis De La Cruz went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and also reached over the wall to take away a three-run homer in St. Lucie’s 10-4 win against Clearwater. First-round pick Michael Conforto produced another RBI as Brooklyn beat Connecticut, 4-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.

Juan Lagares went 11-for-25 (.440) during the homestand. Read more on his performance Monday, which included an outfield assist on a throw to the plate, in Newsday.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers some thoughts on the Mets' youth movement.

BIRTHDAYS: John Olerud turns 46.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

@AdamRubinESPN Chris Young still here why? DenDekker should be on his away too, give 1 of these guys a chance in LF daily

— DMurph (@MetsSouthFla) August 4, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Did you want Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker promoted?