Mets GM: Harvey's '14 return unlikely

Updated: June 10, 2014, 10:50 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson left little doubt Tuesday that it is highly unlikely Matt Harvey will pitch in the major leagues in 2014.

Harvey definitely will not pitch in the major leagues within 11 months of the Oct. 22, 2014 Tommy John surgery, Alderson said. That leaves only a tiny window -- the final six games of the regular season -- before the Mets conclude play Sept. 28.

Alderson noted the Mets could allow Harvey to get the peace of mind he seeks by instead having him pitch in the instructional league, which spans late September and early October. That would be far more of a controlled atmosphere and require less adrenaline than pitching in a major league stadium.

"I think he would like to have in the back of his mind that he threw once or twice and that everything went fine so that he goes into spring training with that kind of peace of mind," Alderson said. "I think there are other ways that we can provide that kind of peace of mind, whether it's in instructional league or some other setting. So that's yet to be determined."

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets would be unlikely to pitch Harvey in a major league game unless the team was in postseason contention. With the Mets currently seven games under .500, that is difficult to foresee.

"I don't know why we would rush him for any other reason," Collins said. "... I'd love him to pitch this year, because I think it means we're in the hunt. But I don't find it drastically important, because the one thing we do not want to have is some type of major relapse because we came too fast and this guy sits out 2015. That ain't happening."

Harvey had expected to begin throwing off the slope of a mound this week. He was caught off guard when rehab coordinator Jon Debus told him there had been a change of plans as a precaution.

"From our standpoint, after talking with our doctors, it made sense to slow him down a little bit," Alderson said. "So there hasn't been a setback. He wasn't going to throw off a mound this week. He was going to throw off a slope. So we backed him off a little bit just to slow him down, recognizing that most of these cases, physiologically, it doesn't make sense for somebody to come back and try to perform at a peak level sooner than that 11-month mark."

Said Collins: "He was going so fast, so quickly, the discussion was making sure we're smart about this. Not that we don't want him back. Believe me."

The ace had expressed the desire to pitch in five to seven major league games this year, but understands the math now precludes that intention.

"My whole intention, of course, like I've said all along as a competitor, is always to look into the future and find a specific date of how early I can come back," Harvey said. "They have a higher power. I can't write myself in the lineup or say I'm ready to come back without being cleared by the organization and by doctors first.

"Obviously coming back in the middle of August, I don't think that's possible anymore."

Harvey said the organization had not yet communicated to him their reasoning. While he does not like being restrained, he indicated he understands the likely motivation: to avoid a setback that could compromise 2015 and beyond.

"I don't know if somebody talked to a doctor or whatnot and they felt that things needed to slow down," Harvey said. "Whatever they decided, I haven't quite talked to them yet. ... If there are guys that have come back in the 10-month period, for me looking at that I've always wanted to be that guy. If there are other plans that I can't control, I can only show up every day and continue my work and continue my rehab."

Alderson acknowledged the rash of Tommy John surgeries -- and repeat Tommy John surgeries -- provide extra incentive to play it safe with Harvey.

"The sobering fact that there have been so many of these cases now, and so many recurrences, we obviously are more interested in his long-term health success than anything we might achieve this season," Alderson said.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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