LAKELAND, Fla. - The Mets don't want Matt Harvey's desire to return this season from Tommy John surgery to become a focal point of spring training. They really don't.
But Harvey continues to make that desire known publicly, and it apparently continues to make the Mets uneasy.
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On Saturday morning, on his verified Twitter account (@MattHarvey33), Harvey wrote: "2014 Harvey day will happen."
The tweet was a reference to some Mets beat writers calling the day rookie Noah Syndergaard pitches "Syndergaard Day.'' That tradition began with "Harvey Day'' in 2012 and continued last season with "Wheeler Day'' for Zack Wheeler's starts.
Harvey's post was retweeted thousands of times and was written about on most New York and national sports websites as morning turned into afternoon. It all seemed to be in good fun and may have even given some Mets fans a reason for optimism.
But the tweet was deleted Saturday afternoon after the Mets' 3-2 win over the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium.
General manager Sandy Alderson, who opened spring training last month by saying "the story for 2014 is not Matt Harvey," was asked about Harvey's tweet after the game. He said he was not aware of it.
"No, I don't follow him on Twitter," Alderson said.
(In fact, as of Saturday night, Alderson was following only one player on his verified Twitter account: young Mets outfielder Juan Lagares.)
Alderson was asked if he plans to follow Harvey on Twitter now.
"No, I don't," he said.
But on a more important note to the 2014 Mets, Alderson was asked if he would prefer it if Harvey wouldn't continue to broadcast his desire to pitch this season via social media or other avenues.
Harvey vowed a 2014 return -- also on Twitter -- when he decided to have the surgery in October and said (out loud) in January, "I'd like to shoot for being out there in September."
Unlike Yankees general manager Brian Cashman -- who last summer famously told Alex Rodriguez to "shut the [expletive] up" over a Twitter post related to a premature return from injury -- Alderson was more measured Saturday.
"Look, I can't control what he tweets or says by other means," Alderson said. "If that's how he feels, that's his perspective and we'll see where it goes."
Harvey's mantra of wanting to return in 2014 from the surgery he had last Oct. 22 puts the Mets in a tough position. They don't want to dissuade him from working toward the earliest possible return date. But they also don't want Harvey to fall victim to unreasonable expectations after a serious surgery that typically takes a year or more of rehab.
"It's one of those never-say-never [situations],'' Alderson said. "Look, are the probabilities with him? Everybody's different. It's what, not even the middle of March? Let's wait until the middle of July before we maybe address that question again."
Harvey's work so far this spring training has been throwing off flat ground four times a week. He first threw Feb. 22 -- four months to the day after surgery. He addressed the media after that session but has been off-limits for interviews since then.
Harvey, who started the All-Star Game at Citi Field last year and finished tied for fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting after going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, does not have a locker with the other starting pitchers in the team's spring training clubhouse this year.
On his arrival at camp last month, Harvey learned his locker was not on starting pitchers' row. His was out of sight, closer to the trainer's room and next to Jeremy Hefner, who also is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Harvey and the Mets could face some tense conversations about where he's going to do his rehab after spring training. Harvey has said he would prefer to stay with the team and do it in New York. But Alderson has said the team's policy is to have players with long-term injuries stay in Port St. Lucie and use the facilities there.
Harvey, who will turn 25 on March 27, has delighted Mets fans with his dominant pitching. But he has had some public relations missteps.
Harvey said he was "embarrassed" last July by how he was portrayed in a magazine article in which he was quoted as saying he wanted to emulate Derek Jeter's dating style. He apologized in September for going on a national radio show and refusing to answer questions about his elbow, instead insisting on talking about a wireless service he was being paid to plug.
But Harvey apparently does see the good side of social media. On Saturday, in addition to the "2014" tweet, he asked, "Can I get 1000 more followers for 100k. I think that would be pretty cool."
That tweet was not deleted.
And Harvey did get to 100,000 followers.