SAN FRANCISCO -- The Mets would be hard-pressed to find a string of three more frustrating games than the ones they delivered in getting swept this week by the lowly Cubs.
But even as the Mets moved about 2,100 miles west to San Francisco, their wide-ranging issues tailed them.
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They ranged from developments with Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, two of the most promising arms in the organization, to searing criticism from former Met Paul Lo Duca.
The body blows landed even before the Mets began their most pressing and immediate task: finding a way to shake off a brutal three days in Chicago in time to face the Giants, arguably the best team in baseball.
Things might be different for the Mets had Harvey not suffered a right elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Harvey had been scheduled to throw off the slope of a pitcher's mound on Monday, a major checkpoint in his goal to return to major-league action as soon as August, two months ahead of the typical recovery time.
But the Mets long have been hesitant to endorse such a quick turnaround for fear that he will reinjure himself, a major reason that his throwing session has been bumped until a later date.
A team source said Harvey will be limited to a long-toss program for now. No new throw date has been set. "There's no [physical] setback or anything," the source said. "He's just slowing the pace down a little bit."
Manager Terry Collins said Harvey is "doing great," though he reiterated the desire to slow the pace of rehab.
At Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets caught a break regarding Syndergaard, who sprained the AC joint in his left (non-throwing) shoulder while covering home plate after a wild pitch during Thursday's start. X-rays and a CT scan came back negative, but he will be shut down for five to seven days.
Syndergaard, 21, was pitching in his first game since being sidelined for two weeks with a strained flexor pronator in his right elbow. An MRI exam revealed no structural damage, clearing his return to action.
The team's development of young pitchers apparently is one of the few areas that Lo Duca believes the Mets have gotten right in recent years. During an appearance on WFAN radio Friday, the four-time All-Star took shots at former general manager Omar Minaya, Citi Field's dimensions and the team's current catchers, Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker.
"I could hit better lefthanded than the [players] they've got there now," said the righty-hitting Lo Duca, who played for the Mets in 2006 and 2007.
He saved his harshest words for Minaya, whom he blamed for the franchise's downturn.
"They stuck their hopes in a guy that, let's be honest, had no clue what was going on. None," Lo Duca said. "The guy was an idiot. And he ended up making the franchise go backwards."
Notes & quotes: The Mets were held hitless for five innings by Matt Cain Friday night, but Daniel Murphy gave them a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer in the seventh . . . With their third-round choice, the Mets drafted shortstop Milton Ramos, considered a defensive whiz with American Heritage School in Florida. The Mets' other picks included third baseman Eudor Garcia-Pacheco (fourth round), righthander Josh Prevost (fifth), catcher Tyler Moore (sixth), lefthander Brad Wieck (seventh), first baseman Dash Winningham (eighth), outfielder Michael Katz (ninth) and lefthander Kelly Secrest (10th) . . . Dillon Gee (strained lat muscle) has resumed throwing . . . Eric Young Jr. (strained hamstring) suffered a setback in his rehab, feeling tightness during running drills.