Matt Harvey's rehab from Tommy John surgery last October has been one of the bigger off the field stories for the New York Mets this season. While Harvey has been aggressively stating that he could pitch for the Mets this season, the team has downplayed any potential 2014 availability from their ace. Harvey went on the record with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci today, telling the magazine's baseball reporter that he is aiming to make between 5-7 starts this season.
Harvey's projection would result in him returning to the mound in August, only 10 months removed from the surgery. This is well short of Dr. James Andrews' (who performed Harvey's surgery) estimated time of recovery from the surgery, which he places at 11.6 months. Harvey indicated that he won't push for the starts if he isn't cleared by the team's medical staff, but he has indicated he is proceeding under the assumption he will be ready to go in August. Harvey is set to throw off a mound on June 10th, which would be the earliest date to get him ready for a late July rehab assignment.
Harvey also indicated to Verducci that he is planning on making additional changes to try and prevent re-injury. Harvey plans to pitch at 240 pounds going forward, up from the 220 lb frame he featured at the time of the injury. Harvey also indicated he would tone down his infamous bullpen sessions between starts, which Harvey would throw with game intensity. Harvey told Verducci he has learned that he doesn't need to maintain that intensity to keep his sharpness, so he can keep himself in better shape long term.
While it is admirable for Harvey to aim to come back as soon as he possibly can, the Mets should still proceed with extreme caution. Tommy John surgeries have been on a dramatic rise this season, with several pitchers facing a second procedure just a few years after the first. The Mets don't want Harvey rushing back if he isn't ready, particularly if the team isn't in playoff contention in August. A cautionary tale for coming back early from the surgery is Edinson Volquez, who came back after 11 months from the surgery and hasn't been the same pitcher since then. Harvey can be aggressive with his rehab if he wants, but he needs to remember to follow common sense as well.
Tags: Baseball, Matt Harvey, MLB, New York, New York Mets