NEW YORK – New York Mets manager Terry Collins chatted up Hall of Famer John Smoltz on Thursday at Citi Field.
The conversation centered on Matt Harvey’s struggles in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
“I said, ‘Is there really this Tommy John hangover?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely,’” Collins said. “I’m going to relay that to Matt. And, if I need to, I’m going to have John Smoltz relay that to Matt.”
Harvey has a 7.20 ERA in his past four starts. He has allowed eight home runs during that span. Harvey allowed only seven homers in 26 starts during the 2013 season.
Smoltz missed the 2000 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
“One of the things that we’re seeing with Matt Harvey, that you see sometimes with stars, it’s the first time there’s ever [been] a bump in the road,” Collins said. “How are they going to handle it? This is his first bump. It’s been easy for Matt Harvey. Now he’s going to be tested. This guy has got the makeup to get through it.
“Did we ever think there was going to be a situation where he would go through what he’s going through?” Collins continued. “No, because he’s always been above that stuff. You look at last September, when he threw that little simulated game out here that day -- 95 [mph]. Eleven months out of surgery, he’s 95 [mph]. And you’re just shaking your head, saying, ‘Nobody’s done that.’ And then he starts out the year with pinpoint control, great stuff, and you’re saying, ‘God, nobody does that.’
“So now, all of a sudden, he’s flattened out and the panic is setting in like, ‘Oh, what’s wrong?’ And I don’t think there’s anything wrong. I just think we’ve got to be able to work our way through this whole thing.”
Collins also touched on Harvey’s demeanor.
“He’s not been in the best of moods these days. And we certainly understand it,” Collins said. “I just want him to be the Matt Harvey he was. Don’t get caught up in the persona, get caught up in the individual and who you are and what made the persona what it is, and be that guy. Not everybody is perfect. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. But find that fire again that made you so successful. I think he can handle it. I think he will, because he loves to be out there and he loves to pitch well and he likes to be the guy that everybody turns to. I think it’s still there.”
Said general manager Sandy Alderson: “Just as I don’t think you can necessarily bank on the way he pitched early, I certainly wouldn’t conclude that he is what he has been the last three or four [games]. I think we’re still in the process of finding out what Matt’s going to be able to do over the course of the season.”