Matt Harvey still hopeful he'll return this season

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey works out at the Mets pitcher Matt Harvey works out at the Mets' rehabilitation center in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Reinhold Matay

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rehabbing Mets ace Matt Harvey said he felt fine after a brief session throwing off a mound Tuesday, and that he still clings to hope he can pitch this season.

After only two sessions of about 25 pitches each, all fastballs, not even the optimistic Harvey was ready to project where his comeback will be when major-league rosters expand to 40 players Sept. 1. He also didn't speculate on whether he'd be ready to make rehab appearances before minor-league seasons end soon after that.

For now, Harvey said he is pleased to be back on a mound 9 1/2 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last Oct. 22.

He began his session with about 10 minutes of long toss, working his way up to 120 feet, alongside Jeremy Hefner, another Mets pitcher on the mend. Then Harvey moved to a bullpen mound behind the third-base grandstand of Tradition Field, the Mets' spring training home.

Harvey had a similar session Friday, but the presence of media and more Mets officials made this session more of an official start toward his return.

"The way it felt throwing the first day [Friday] felt like I wasn't going to have any trouble,'' he said yesterday.

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He said he was happy this session went smoothly and that he hasn't had any setbacks. He said he focused on mechanics more than on velocity.

The 25-year-old righthander, the National League's starting pitcher in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, said he's not sure what caused the partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

"I've thrown the same way my entire life,'' he said. "It's not like I'm going to change my mechanics because of the injury. I'm going to stick with what got me here and what has been successful in the past.

"Hopefully, it's good enough, and the surgery is strong enough, to keep me healthy.''

Former Mets pitcher and coach Al Jackson, now a Mets consultant at their Post St. Lucie complex, said it was the first time he'd seen Harvey throw since the surgery, and that his mechanics looked fine. "We'll know more when we see him again,'' Jackson said.

What will determine Harvey's schedule, Jackson said, is how well he bounces back from each throwing session.

Jay Horwitz, Mets vice president of media relations, said, "Every couple of days [Harvey] is going to do something, depending on how he feels.''

After more bullpen sessions, Harvey will progress to throwing live batting practice, Horwitz said.

Harvey said he misses the competition and camaraderie.

"You work so hard to get to the big leagues and have some success,'' he said, "then suddenly you can't play anymore.''

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As for why he wants to pitch again for the Mets this season even though they are not in contention, Harvey said, "Every game I pitch is meaningful to me, regardless of how we're doing as a team.''

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