Matt Harvey once roared back from Tommy John surgery, helping the Mets reach the World Series in his first season back from what is for many a career-altering procedure.
Now, the Mets ace will be challenged to repeat the feat, this time as he comes off surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome that compressed a nerve near his right shoulder, leaving his right hand feeling abnormally cold and his fingers tingling.
“I’d like to think so,” Harvey said on Wednesday at a Target in Queens, where he participated in the Mets’ first holiday shopping spree for kids. “Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball. But the way things are feeling now, the way the body feels, it’s feeling great.”
About a month ago, Harvey said he transitioned from post surgery physical therapy to a more regular throwing program. He has been long tossing to build arm strength and anticipates more normal throwing activity next month. Perhaps most important, the tingling sensation in his fingers is no longer a factor.
“That’s all gone,” Harvey said. “My hand was really cold all the time. So, I’ve got some warmth back. No more tingling. And the ball’s really coming out really good right now, especially for December.”
Harvey, 27, endured the worst season of his career. Surgery cut his year down to 17 starts. He finished 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 92 2⁄3 — numbers that reflected the underlying issue.
By the time Harvey underwent surgery, the tingling sensation had worsened. Suddenly, there was a clear reason to explain the uncharacteristic loss of command that helped to wreck his season.
“Going forward this offseason, throwing each week, each month, it’s only getting better,” Harvey said. “That’s location, that’s strength, that’s pretty much everything. For me, I’m right where I want to be.”
That’s good news for the Mets, whose chances to reclaim the pennant from the Cubs will hinge upon the health of a starting rotation headed by Harvey. He is one of four regular rotation members coming off surgery, joining the ranks of Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2014 because of setbacks while returning from Tommy John surgery.
Meanwhile, Harvey underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in July, wiping out nearly half of his season just one year after he pitched in the World Series.
“Obviously, being healthy through spring training and getting to the season, and continuing to be healthy through the season is a big plus for me and something that I’m looking forward to doing,” Harvey said. “But as far as the offseason goes, I’m right where I want to be and everything’s feeling great.”
As he’s done in the past, Harvey intends to spend some time at the Southern California training complex of agent Scott Boras in January. After the Super Bowl, the pitcher plans to head for the team’s spring training home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to begin preparations for the season.
“Workouts are going well,” Harvey said. “And I’m just looking forward to getting down to spring training and having a good time.”