ST. LOUIS — Matt Harvey is still pissed off. The one-time Mets ace who was demoted to the bullpen last weekend declined to talk to reporters Tuesday night after his first relief appearance. Wednesday afternoon, Harvey was still not talking and seemingly unhappy about being approached again.
After declining politely as he came off the field Wednesday, he snapped at a group of reporters who approached him in the clubhouse.
“I have nothing to say to you guys,” Harvey said. “I don’t f—ing want to (talk).”
Well, that speaks volumes, really.
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Harvey is obviously still unhappy with the move that sent him to the bullpen, but he needs to get over it.
This isn’t the first time he has snapped at the media, but now, he is further on thin ice with this team. He has struggled the last two seasons and he pitched his way out of the rotation in four starts this year.
Once a young fireballer who helped move this team out of the melancholy of the Madoff financial scandal and into excitement for the future, his tenure with the Mets is not likely to end well. The Mets have not yet discussed designating him for assignment, but they have talked about hoping he can pull himself together so they can put him on the market at the trade deadline.
But right now, the only way this situation is going to get better is if he learns to channel that anger into some kind of success on the field.
And that’s not easy, going through such a public demotion and feeling like the team’s belief in of you is slipping. John Smoltz, who chose to go to the bullpen to remain in Atlanta, said he still had to battle the emotional stigma of being sent to the bullpen. It’s a huge fall from grace for Harvey, who was once seen as the saviour of a flailing franchise.
Smoltz sees Harvey’s struggle as harder because of the negative feedback and that there is a big emotional hurdle for him to get through.
“You hear it, you know spin rate down, velocity is down, everything points to the negative, negative, negative, that’s all a player hears, it’s much more difficult to thrive in that environment when their mental picture of him was four years ago and now, it’s like he’s done in people’s minds,” Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz said of Harvey and the Mets’ move to the bullpen. “That’s a difficult place to be. He’s not done, but that’s the sentiment you start feeling as a player. ‘I just got sent to the bullpen. What do they think of me. They don’t think I have what it takes. I’ll show them.’
“Those are all natural feelings,” Smoltz said. “You gotta have them and then you have to use them to get through it.”
When Harvey was dominant in 2013, he pitched with a chip on his shoulder to prove he was among the best in baseball. He needs to channel that anger — or defiance — again.
The Mets were happy with his first relief appearance. His fastball touched 95 miles an hour, a tick up from where it was when he was starting. He was fine allowing one run in two innings, he attacked hitters and recovered after giving up a run in his first of two innings. Team sources said he has been quiet and conscientious in his two games sitting in the bullpen. When the phone rang Tuesday night, Harvey was up quickly and eager to get in the game, according to sources.
Harvey spoke to a group of reporters after the decision to move him to the bullpen was announced and said he was pissed off with the demotion. Tuesday night, he left the clubhouse without talking to reporters and declined through the Mets’ public relations staff.
While first-year Mets manager Mickey Callaway has preached accountability with his players, that does not always extend to post-game interviews.
“I think that rules are rules and the players have a very strong union that protects them from certain things,” Callaway said. “I can’t really comment on that, because it’s a rule. It’s not my rule, but it’s something I have to live with as well.”
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