Control trouble: Mets having difficulty getting Matt Harvey to slow down
There had been some thought, at least within some corners of the Mets' organization, that Matt Harvey's scared-straight moment finally had arrived.
In Jeremy Hefner, Harvey found a comrade in healing arms, forced to navigate the same treacherous road back from Tommy John surgery. Their journeys began at roughly the same time, and they had unfolded on parallel tracks until this week.
Hefner, 28, suffered another tear in his right elbow, a setback that will alter his career and perhaps end it. Harvey, 25, watched it all unfold at close enough range, with his own eyes, to see the effects of a rehab gone bad.
Yet the last few days have revealed that with the Mets and their strong-willed ace, the dialogue has barely shifted. Harvey wants to move quickly, the Mets prefer to go slowly, and whatever middle ground the sides have reached has been uneasy.
The latest example came Thursday. Manager Terry Collins reached out to the rehabbing Harvey, again reminding him about the perils of accelerating his rehab.
"When Jeremy got hurt, his first thing was, 'OK, I've got to be careful,' '' Collins said of Harvey. "And then [Wednesday], he went out and started playing catch like he was supposed to and felt so good that when he got on the mound to do his side, he just did his thing because he wants to try and get back here to help.
"And I explained to him, I understand that,'' Collins continued. "But the process is right now, you've got to understand it's the big picture, and the big picture is 2015. So back off.''
Initially, Collins and Harvey were to speak Wednesday before the Nationals faced the Mets that night. But Collins couldn't reach him. A few hours later, during the early portion of the game, Harvey appeared on ESPN Radio.
After throwing a 27-pitch bullpen session, Harvey used the appearance to rave about his arm, estimating that his pitches had reached the low and mid-90s. It wasn't what Collins had in mind earlier in the day when he expressed his desire for Harvey to ease up, even if it ran contrary to his hyper-competitive mentality.
Resisting the urge to go all out again was the center of Thursday's talk between Collins and Harvey.
"I said you've got to be smart about this,'' Collins said. "And by the way, stop doing radio shows during the ballgame telling everybody you're throwing 95. That's not going to help us.''
According to Collins, Harvey simply "wanted to let them know I'm fine,'' to which Collins responded, "Yeah, but there's a phraseology you could use to say I'm doing fine and I'm making progress.''
It was the second time this week that a member of the Mets' hierarchy broached the topic with Harvey. General manager Sandy Alderson also spoke with him, using Hefner's injury as "a cautionary story'' and a reason for keeping Harvey from throwing in a game until next season.
The Mets already had prevented Harvey from throwing bullpen sessions, a decision that, according to Collins, "frustrated him to the max.''
Even after the chat, Collins acknowledged it will be Harvey who ultimately decides whether to heed the advice. Still, the manager felt compelled to at least make his pitch.
"Because you have to be here next year; we can't afford to have what happened to Jeremy happen to you,'' Collins said he told Harvey. "Now, does he get it? You have to ask him. I can't answer that for him, but I trust him that he gets it. We'll see.''