PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - In September, Matt Harvey said in a radio interview that he was "looking ahead to April 6 and counting the Washington Nationals as a 'W.' "

What about now that the Mets' ace knows he is not starting on Opening Day and will instead pitch in the third game of the season?

"Bartolo's got that covered," Harvey said Tuesday.

The Mets announced on Monday that Bartolo Colon will start the season opener and be followed by 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom in Game 2.

Harvey's first start in his return from Tommy John surgery is scheduled for the afternoon of April 9 at Nationals Park.

Honors for the Mets' home opener on April 13 against the Phillies go to deGrom. Harvey will make his Citi Field return the next night.

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And all of this is fine with him.

"Of course, of course," Harvey said. "For not throwing all of last year, I'm happy to be playing again. Whatever is decided on when I get to throw, I'm going to be all excited and all for.

"Obviously, Bartolo throwing 200 innings and getting 15 wins [in 2014] is well-deserving of Opening Day, and all that Jacob did last year he certainly deserves Opening Day at home. I'm happy to be throwing in the first series and obviously extremely happy to be throwing at home."

Manager Terry Collins, in announcing the decisions on Monday, said: "That's no disrespect to Matt at all. He is our ace. We know it. He knows it. I told him that he's going to pitch a lot of big games this summer. They all count. Obviously it's an honor to pitch Opening Day, but we've got to win games and we've got to win every game we go out there and we kind of like the way it sets up."

Harvey said on Tuesday he didn't know if he was starting the second or third game in Washington until the media told him. At least he knew he wasn't starting the opener.

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"It's something I expected," he said. "I was happy being healthy going into spring training. I think for me, kind of knowing that I was going to start the season was already in my mind. I'm happy I get to start in Washington . . . I'm excited to throw there. I think with their pitching staff and the way that they're perceived in the season, I think we're excited to match up against them."

Harvey, who likely will face Stephen Strasburg on April 9, has two more exhibition starts to go. The first will be Friday against the Cardinals in Jupiter.

So far, he has a 1.24 ERA in four outings. In 14 1/3 innings, Harvey has allowed 11 hits, walked one and struck out 12. In his last outing on Sunday, Harvey two-hit the Yankees over 5 2/3 shutout innings.

It's hard to imagine spring training going any better for Harvey than it has.

"Everything feels good," he said. "I think the big thing now is getting from 60 pitches to closer to 100. Obviously, the weather's going to be warmer down here than it is up there, so getting extra prepared is definitely something we want to do in the next two starts."