A contrite, relaxed and reflective Matt Harvey said upon his return to Citi Field on Monday, “I do want everybody to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made” during his Mets tenure.
In an emotional 16-minute news conference in the visiting dugout, the former Mets ace said: “There’s a lot of things I wish I obviously hadn’t done. Kind of put myself in a bad position.”
Harvey, who will not face his former team in this series, was the toast of the town as the much-celebrated “Dark Knight” during his early years with the Mets. He started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. “Harvey Day” became an anticipated event whenever the righthander pitched, and it all culminated in the Mets’ trip to the 2015 World Series after he returned from Tommy John surgery.
But two major injuries — he had thoracic outlet surgery in 2016 — and questionable off-the-field behavior made Harvey’s later years here a roller-coaster ride. When he no longer was able to get batters out this season, the Mets demoted him to the bullpen, designated him for assignment and traded him to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8.
Harvey said it was tough getting traded from the only organization he had played for and the city he embraced (perhaps a little too much) as one of its beautiful people. Asked if he cried when the trade happened, Harvey said: “Maybe.”
The Mets honored Harvey with a brief video tribute before the game that ended with the words, “Thank you, Matt.”
The small crowd mostly cheered, though there were some boos. Harvey tipped his cap from the Reds’ dugout.
“I’ve had such good memories here,” he said. “Obviously, recently they haven’t been so great. But I really gave it my all and put a lot of pride in that and what I can do. A lot of different things didn’t work out very well because of health reasons and stuff like that. That made things tougher.
“Like I said, health was the biggest thing. Being as competitive as I am, as all these guys are, the injuries took a toll on me and I wasn’t able to do my job the way I wanted to. I made a lot of mistakes. It’s something I’ve definitely looked back on and I wouldn’t say ‘regret.’ People make mistakes and I definitely made a lot of them and I think that kind of goes with the emotions of coming back here. I do remember a lot of cheers and obviously some boos. It was a really fun time and I absolutely loved being here and playing here. Like I said, I’m just happy I’m healthy.”
Harvey, who went 34-37 in six seasons as a Met, said he has no bitterness toward the organization he frequently clashed with. “No, none at all,” he said. “I think with a lot of the injuries, I look back and, as I said, I put so much pride into being competitive and I had so much success in ’13 and ’15, the injuries just kind of took a big toll on me. I wasn’t able to do my job the way I wanted to, the way I know I could and how I wanted to. That made things really tough for me mentally and obviously in the clubhouse and off the field, it was hard to go through injuries and not be able to do my job.”
Asked specifically what mistakes he made, Harvey said: “Now knowing what needs to be done when you have an injury to get back, I think instead of being so frustrated with that, fighting that, fighting that I am injured and that it’s not an easy way back, there were mistakes, obviously. I try to look past those and grow and learn from them and I appreciate the Reds’ organization for giving me a chance.”
After pitching to a 7.00 ERA in eight appearances with the Mets, Harvey is 5-5 with a 4.79 ERA in 15 starts with the Reds.
He was not traded before the non-waiver deadline, but he still could be dealt to a contender in a waiver deal this month.
“It’s definitely coming back,” he said. “The numbers obviously don’t necessarily show it, but the way the ball’s coming out, the way I feel, certain innings, certain batters, it’s very close . . . There was a lot of moments when I was injured that I really didn’t know if I was going to continue playing the game. When you struggle that much and put so much pressure on succeeding, you just feel like you let everybody down. There was a lot of tough moments.”