MIAMI - In a stunning turn of events, Matt Harvey said Saturday that he has been advised by the doctor who performed his Tommy John surgery that he should not throw more than 180 innings this season -- and the Mets righthander gave no indication that he is going to go against that advice.
That's terrible news for the blindsided Mets, who were hoping to nurse Harvey through four more regular-season starts and, they hoped, a full postseason workload. Now his final start of 2015 could come as early as next Sunday in Atlanta.
Harvey, who next pitches on Tuesday against the Nationals, has thrown 1661/3 innings this season and is 12-7 with a 2.60 ERA. If the strong-willed Harvey forces the Mets to shut him down, he will make one more start after that.
Based on Harvey's comments in the visiting dugout at Marlins Park, he might not pitch again this season once he reaches the limit set by Dr. James Andrews. The issue was first raised on Friday by Harvey's agent, Scott Boras, and Harvey appeared to be in lockstep with his agent, not his team.
Boras also is the agent for Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down in September 2012 by the Nationals in his first year after Tommy John surgery.
General manager Sandy Alderson said he plans to speak with Harvey on Monday in Washington, where the Mets will open an important three-game series with the second-place Nationals.
"Ultimately, it's his decision," Alderson told Newsday. "It's not the team's and it's not his agent's. If he's not prepared to pitch, he's not prepared to pitch."
Harvey never came out and said he is going to shut himself down, but in an eight-minute media session that was a master's thesis in double-talk, he never said he is going to keep pitching, either.
Asked if he can assure Mets fans that he will pitch in the playoffs, Harvey said: "I'm focused on Tuesday."
Asked if he will continue pitching past 180 innings, Harvey said: "I'm the type of person, I never want to put the ball down. I hired Scott as my agent and went to Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy. As far as being out there, being with my teammates and playing, I'm never going to want to stop. But as far as the surgeon and agent having my back and kind of looking out for the best of my career, they're obviously speaking their mind about that."
Asked if he thinks the Mets have his back, Harvey said: "I'm focused on Tuesday."
Asked who is going to make the decision, Harvey said: "I'm going to always play. But, like I said, I hired Dr. Andrews to do my surgery and I hired Scott for a reason: to prolong my career and put me in the best possible position. Moving forward with that, I have one start in mind, and that's Tuesday."
One day earlier, the Mets said their plan will not change because of Boras' comments. But Harvey's dugout news conference changed things because of his revelation that Andrews had personally told him that 180 innings is his limit. The Mets said they were never told 180 was a hard cap.
"I've been on the phone with Dr. Andrews," Harvey said. "I've been on the phone with Scott. Dr. Andrews said the limit was 180. That's what Scott, or Dr. Andrews, had said. But for me, I've got 1661/3 innings, I don't know much more than what I have to do Tuesday. That's go out and beat the Nationals."
The Mets have done their best to manage Harvey's innings this season with an eye toward having him available down the stretch and in the postseason. Harvey grumbled when the Mets temporarily instituted a six-man rotation to give him and other starters more rest, but now he seems to have accepted that all he can give them this year is the doctor-recommended 180 innings.
"I'm thrilled that we're into this conversation because that means I'm healthy and pitching and had a lot of innings throughout the year," Harvey said. "That's the importance of the Tommy John surgery as a whole. So for me, being back, being healthy and accumulating this many innings is a good sign."
Asked how his arm feels, Harvey said: "Good. Healthy. I feel great."
With David Lennon
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