On-Base Perception

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Dwight Gooden: Watching Matt Harvey brings back memories

Dwight Gooden during spring training.

Dwight Gooden during spring training. (Credit: Dave Pokress)

The last Mets pitcher to burst onto the scene with the success and exposure that Matt Harvey is experiencing right now has been keeping an eye on the young star. And he's become a quick fan.

Dwight Gooden, appearing at the annual BTIG Commissions for Charity Day, said he has enjoyed watching Harvey in his nascent career. And you don't have to be a doctor of psychology -- or Ks -- to figure out why.

"Seeing a guy like that brings back a lot of memories of when I came up," Gooden said. "And he's a nice guy. I got to meet him a couple of times. Watching him throw does bring back memories."

Gooden said that it's not only the blazing fastball that has impressed him. He said Harvey's mound presence is equally good.

"Nothing really fazes him," Gooden said. "I was at the game against the Nationals a couple of weeks ago when he went against Strasberg, and it was good to see him get out of trouble in the seventh inning. He didn't try to overthrow like most young pitchers would. He just kept his composure and got out of a jam. If he stays healthy, he should have a great career."

Harvey appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and his starts, especially the ones at home, are becoming not just games but must-see events. That kind of exposure can bring with it a lot of pressure. Gooden knows that feeling all too well. In some ways it led to the awakening of demons in his off-the-field life. But for a while at least, Gooden seemed to thrive in the spotlight. He thinks Harvey will too.

"It depends on the individual," Gooden said. "Some guys probably can't handle the tension, the media attention and the expectations at a young age. And then you have some guys like when I was playing and I see what he's doing, they enjoy that. They look forward to the challenge. It's like an extra challenge to yourself when you're pitching."

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