In his first year-plus as a Major League pitcher, Matt Harvey has shown us he possesses an impressive set of tools. A biting fastball, a devastating curve and a fine change-up are the main pieces of his game arsenal. A solid pitcher’s build is the principal physical attribute. A bulldog, take-no-prisoners attitude fires his professional heart. By all accounts, he “has an idea out there,” to put it in long-ago dugout parlance. Other than the elephant in the room – his Tommy John surgically repaired right elbow – Harvey might the prototype of the perfect pitcher.
It’s that elephant, and the last of Harvey’s impressive tools that concern your intrepid columnist. We know Harvey burns to compete. After all, this is a guy who threw a one-hitter while dealing with a spontaneous nose-bleed. The thought of sitting on the shelf for twelve months, unable to do anything but general strength and mobility exercises, must be driving him crazy. And of course, he does his pitching for our New York Mets, who – let’s face it – don’t have the best reputation when it comes to dealing with player injuries. So when Harvey let the word out a little bit ago that he wanted to pitch in September…of this year…you could hear the wave of apprehension ripple through Met-land. “Please heal first!” Then, last week, Harvey told us he want to start throwing on February 22. He reiterated this stance on Mike Francesa’s radio show on Friday. “The doctors said ‘four months’ and the 22nd is four months.” He sounded a little like a teenager, holding his parents to their exact words: “You said I could borrow the car, if…”
Please heal first!
To be fair, Harvey was quick to add that he would be heeding the advice of his medical team, but you could tell he’s getting a little antsy. While we can’t really blame him, we have to hope he trusts his better judgment. It would be all too easy for him to push it, to try and overdo, to give in to that competitive urge. It would also be all too easy for him to set himself back considerably in doing so. Baseball history is littered with pitchers who tried to come back from injury too soon, from Dizzy Dean to Herb Score to Steve Busby to Johan Santana. You would hope Matt Harvey is a student of MLB history and would go to school on each of these guys. He’s certainly intelligent enough that he knows how high the stakes are and what the consequences would be if he were to take the risk.
Please heal first!
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