PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Live batting practice reveals little about where a pitcher stands, especially when it comes in the earliest days of spring training. Take, for example, Matt Harvey's session Monday.
Of the 26 pitches he threw to five simulated batters, two were curveballs in the dirt that fooled Curtis Granderson and David Wright. But they came with the hitters in simulated situational hitting situations -- hit-and-runs and the like -- meaning that they had to swing.
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"It's the first day of swinging against pitchers," Wright said. "We faced Matt Harvey. And it went about as expected."
Of course, results take a back seat to feel. And after the session, the rehabbing ace said he is "ready to go."
In Grapefruit League action Friday, Harvey will face an old friend in David Price and the Tigers. He will throw 35 to 40 pitches in his first game action of any kind since surgery just over 16 months ago.
"It will be March 6, so we still have a whole month to go and I don't want to go out there and overwork or get too excited about one or two innings or however many pitches I throw," Harvey said. "I've been through spring training before. I realize there's a lot of work to be done and still a lot of steps that need to be taken to be game-ready."
Game-readiness looked to be on his mind Monday as he faced his own teammates. Even with the hitters in simulated situations, he gave them no breaks. When catcher Travis d'Arnaud called for a pitch up and in -- a fastball that would make contact difficult -- Harvey obliged with no hesitation.
When it came time to bury breaking balls in the dirt -- again the proper countermove in contact situations -- Harvey reached back for the curveball that he insists has gotten sharper during his hiatus.
"Like I said, I always threw sliders and I don't know where this curveball came from," said Harvey, whose slider has been his primary breaking pitch. "It's nice having that develop. I don't know if I figured something out in my mechanics or it magically appeared, but it's nice having that and felt good out there."
Now the real milestones loom.
Perhaps the only one not within Harvey's reach is starting on Opening Day. That honor will belong to Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler or Jonathon Niese.
"It's the same thing I told Matt Harvey," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "We had a Rookie of the Year. We had a guy that made 33 starts. We had another guy that went 200 innings and is a good teammate. Matt will say the same thing: 'I'm a good teammate. I plan on being the No. 1 guy for many years to come, but right now, I'm probably not the one that is deserving.' "
But for Harvey, just about everything else is fair game. Perhaps most importantly, the Mets no longer seem worried about the effects of Tommy John surgery. Their primary focus is on preparing their ace for the upcoming season.
"No, none whatsoever," Warthen said of any lingering elbow concerns. "I thought that he could have even pitched at the end of last year and I think that Matt thought he was ready. I think that we made the right decision. It would have done us no good, but he was ready to pitch then."
Warthen said the decision proved to be easy considering the Mets' situation, one that they hope proves to be far different this year.
"We weren't going anywhere," Warthen said. "We weren't going to win anything. Don't take a chance."