PORT ST. LUCIE — Matt Harvey is trying to stay in the here and now. The Met righthander doesn’t want to go back over his 2013 All-Star season, just like he isn’t interested in talking about his battle last season to get back after 2016 surgery to address the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
There is no looking back.
“I’ve made this comment before, I am not reverting to anything that is in the past, any mechanics or anything,” Harvey said Monday. “It’s completely a new year, like I said. Mechanics are completely different, my arm is completely different.”
Harvey is just trying to see what he can be after two major surgeries in four years. So far, if he can maintain the focus, health and form he had Monday, it’s a very good sign for him and the Mets heading into 2018.
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“He can be very, very good. He’s got good stuff. We saw today that he can still challenge guys and get outs. That was no slouch lineup he faced today,” manager Mickey Callaway said after the game against the Tigers. “There were some good hitters he faced today. He can be very, very good for us.”
Monday, Harvey slogged through the first two innings against Detroit, but finished off strong in the third. Harvey threw three scoreless innings, striking out one, walking one and allowing two hits. He threw 48 pitches, 21 for strikes, including two swing-and-miss strikes.
He struggled with his mechanics, before making a quick adjustment and finishing off an efficient third inning for a second solid outing this spring. He topped out at 96 miles an hour but his fastball sat mostly at 92-93. He struggled trying to place his fastball on the corners early on, walking Miguel Cabrera in the first, but he also flashed a nice curveball for the first time this spring, striking out Jason Krizan.
“Finishing the outing strong and come out with zeroes, I think the last inning, the third inning, I felt better than I did the first two innings,” Harvey said. “It’s usually the other way around. Definitely a good sign. I am just happy to get in some trouble and be able to get out of it.”
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He impressed Callaway with his ability to battle through the three innings against a lineup that included Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Derek Norris.
“I thought he pitched with not his best stuff. Throughout the season, you’re going to have a handful of those, maybe more. If you can get through those, that’s huge. I thought he did that,” Callaway said. “He did a good job of throwing strike one and maybe fell behind after that. He knew he had good stuff and he made a pitch when he needed to got some outs.”
Callaway was one who told Harvey he didn’t want him dwelling on the past.
Instead, after taking over as the Mets manager in November, Callaway dug through the past for him. He spent time going over video of Harvey and pinpointed a change with his leg kick that started in August 2015 that began to slow down his delivery.
From that research, Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have urged Harvey to just get back to pitching athletically. They have also told him to get all the thoughts about his mechanics out of his head when he is on the mound and focus on getting outs.
That is specifically what Eiland reminded Harvey of Monday and they saw an immediate difference.
“In the first and second inning, I was out of whack and really thinking about it instead of focusing on a certain pitch,” Harvey said. “When I did that in the third inning it was much better.”
After two encouraging outings in spring, Harvey too is starting to build on positive results. And he is starting to focus on where Callaway and Eiland think he fits in with this team in 2018.
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“You don’t want to be a weak link in such a powerful rotation, that’s what keeps us going and pushing each other so hard,” Harvey said. “It’s nice to finally to be part of that and know I can be a solid piece to the rotation.”
For Harvey and the Mets, there is no looking back now.
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