Matt Harvey: Tuesday matchup vs. Nationals only start in mind

ByAdam Rubin via ESPN logo
Sunday, September 6, 2015
ESPN

MIAMI -- Right-hander Matt Harvey did little Saturday to clear up the innings-cap squabble between the New York Mets and his agent, Scott Boras.

Harvey said he is focused on Tuesday's scheduled start against the Washington Nationals and declined to offer any assurance he will represent the Mets in the postseason. He also declined to say who makes the final call between the organization, Boras and Dr. James Andrews about what is a reasonable innings count for Harvey this season.

On Friday, Boras made the media rounds, suggesting Andrews has advised that the right-hander not exceed 180 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets countered that they have been cautious in handling Harvey, and that the pitcher can prudently make four more regular-season starts, plus log a "reasonable" number of innings in the postseason if they qualify.

Harvey currently stands at 166 innings. Asked if he would abide by the Mets' wishes if they want him to exceed 180 innings, Harvey said, "I'm the type of person, I never want to put the ball down. Obviously I hired Scott, my agent, and went with Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy. As far as being out there, being with my teammates and playing, I'm never going to want to stop. As far as the surgeon and my agent having my back and kind of looking out for the best of my career, they're obviously speaking their mind about that."

So who makes the ultimate call if Boras, using Andrews' guideline, recommends to Harvey not to exceed 180 innings and the Mets want him to continue pitching?

"I'm going to always play," Harvey said. "Like I said, I hired Dr. Andrews to do my surgery. I hired Scott for a reason, and that's to prolong my career and put me in the best possible position. Moving forward with that, I have one start in mind, and that's Tuesday."

Harvey declined to offer an assurance to Mets fans that he will pitch in the postseason.

"Like I said, I'm focused on Tuesday," he said.

One team official, however, expressed a high level of confidence that Harvey will be contributing assuming the Mets reach the postseason.

"Trust me," the Mets official told ESPN.com. "He's pitching."

Harvey gave a non-answer when asked if the organization has handled his return from Tommy John surgery the right way and has had his back.

"I'm focused on Tuesday," he said again. "The biggest thing is getting us to where we need to be. I'm thrilled that we're into this conversation because that means I'm healthy and pitching and had a lot of innings throughout the year."

Harvey reiterated Boras' statements from Friday that 180 innings is the limit set by Andrews, who performed the elbow procedure Oct. 22, 2013. Harvey said he was not clear, however, whether that 180-inning cap included the postseason.

"I've been on the phone with Dr. Andrews. I've been on the phone with Scott," Harvey said. "Dr. Andrews said his limit was 180. That's what Scott, or Dr. Andrews had said. But, for me, I've got 166 innings. I don't know any much more than what I have to do Tuesday. And that's go out and beat the Nationals."

Asked if he expected to be shut down at 180 innings, Harvey said: "Like I said, I'm going out Tuesday to try to beat the Nationals. That's our focus right now. I've stayed out of it. ... I've heard both sides. I've heard different sides all along. My job as an athlete and as a player and as part of this team is to concentrate on one start at a time."

Harvey, aware of the instant social-media backlash to his comments, met with manager Terry Collins after his media session Saturday.

"I'm probably not at liberty to discuss too much of it, but I talked to him after he talked to you guys," Collins said. "Sometimes they don't say the appropriate things at the right time. It'll certainly be handled in-house, whatever goes on, and we'll make the best decisions moving forward. Right now I'm not sure what's going to happen. I'm not on the social media network. But he's well aware of what's going on right now. It's against kind of who he is. We'll sit him down tomorrow and revisit the whole thing and get him back on track."

General manager Sandy Alderson said he plans to meet with Harvey on Monday in Washington, before the Mets open a series against the Nationals.

"This situation is obviously still evolving," Alderson said. "Hopefully there will be more clarity by Monday. Ultimately, Matt will decide how long he will pitch this season and any postseason. However, we remain confident in the plan for Matt devised and communicated to him before spring training and discussed with him on many occasions since."

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, another Boras client, was shut down after a Sept. 7, 2012, start and did not participate in the postseason over a concern about mounting innings as he returned from Tommy John surgery. The Mets have structured Harvey's workload this season to avoid similarly having to shut down Harvey. They already skipped his rotation turn Aug. 23 at Colorado. They plan to skip another turn later this month and go to a six-man rotation to dilute his innings.

Harvey said his rehab is not fully comparable to Strasburg's return.

"We're kind of in a different place here. We had some extra time off," Harvey said, referring to his extra-long, 17-month rehab process following the procedure. "Like I said, we're focused on what we have to do to get to the playoffs. It starts obviously tonight with finishing Miami off this weekend and then moving to Washington next week."

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