Matt Harvey throws strikes - and hits them, too

Matt Harvey pitches against the Braves at Citi

Matt Harvey pitches against the Braves at Citi Field. (Aug. 10, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

"For as well as today went on the hill, my swing was egregious. I've got some work to do for sure. Wonder if @MattHarvey33 is giving lessons?"

-- Tweet from Mets rookie righthander Collin McHugh (@Collin_McHugh) after his big-league debut Thursday.

 

Matt Harvey doesn't give hitting lessons. But if asked, his father might.

Mets phenom Harvey has five hits in his first 11 big-league at-bats. And we're not talking about a bunch of cheapies. Two hits, including a double, in his debut July 26. Another double Aug. 16. Two singles in his last start Wednesday. A pair of runs batted in.

Matt Harvey is a pitcher. But he used to be a hitter, too, until college. Which is why McHugh asked for Twitter help after going hitless in two at-bats in an otherwise stellar first game (seven shutout innings).

"He's got a pretty efficient swing," Ed Harvey said of his son, whom he coached at Fitch High School in Groton, Conn. "Basically what I try to teach when I'm teaching hitting is to try to get as efficient as you can and get in the right spots at the right time as far as your hands and your readiness and when your stride foot hits the ground. He's doing those things and he's getting to the ball pretty good."

The Mets have high hopes for Harvey, who will face the Phillies' Cole Hamels Wednesday. But those good feelings have nothing to do with his ability to swing the bat.

The first-round pick from the 2010 draft has impressed with a baseball in his right hand. In six starts, he has a 2.75 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 36 innings. His 2-3 record is a byproduct of the team he pitches for, not a statement about how well he has pitched.

Harvey, 23, was a first baseman and pitcher before he got to the University of North Carolina, but the Tar Heels took his bat.

"The separation happened when he went to college," Ed Harvey said. "All the showcases that he had gone to, they wouldn't let him hit. They were all afraid he was going to get hurt. He always wanted to hit. He told me he asked the coaches a few times to let him hit, and of course they said, 'No, no, no, no. We can't afford to get you hurt swinging a bat.'

"He's a real good first baseman, too. He didn't hit a lot of home runs in high school, but he hit some tape-measure jobs. One of the towns that we played [East Lyme], they still talk about when he hit one three-quarters of the way up a light pole out in leftfield."

Harvey was 4-for-20 with a homer and four RBIs in parts of two seasons in the minor leagues.

"It's something I take pride in and strive to be better," Harvey said. "I always liked hitting. I always liked playing every day. I'm sure my dad would have loved me to make it as a position player. He would have loved that. But the pitching thing kind of played itself out and worked pretty well. So we stayed with that."

Murphy OK. Daniel Murphy has been cleared to play after an MRI on his right shoulder was negative. He has tightness in his rotator cuff . . . According to reports, Scott Hairston was claimed on waivers by a team in order to block him from being claimed by another interested team. He'll likely remain a Met.

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