Too late to apologize? Matt Harvey will find out Tuesday night at Citi Field when he opposes the Padres and faces the home crowd for the first time since a three-day suspension earlier this month for violating team rules.
Harvey was on the verge of tears when he apologized to his teammates and the club in a news conference May 9. He was disciplined for not showing up for a home game May 6 against the Marlins and was pulled from his scheduled start the next day. After his suspension, the Mets spared him an immediate reaction from the fans by moving his next start to Milwaukee.
That would have been considered box office boom to bust in Harvey’s Dark Knight era. Now he is trying to win back the fans.
“I’m trying. I’m doing everything I can,’’ he said Sunday. “The biggest thing is just getting back out there. I don’t want to try and be something I was in the past. I want to be better than that.
“I’m concerned with how I do with this team and how I do in the clubhouse. My objective is to prepare and be ready for each start and help as much as I can help this team win. And in my eyes, I think fans are going to think what they want to think. Regardless of whatever it is, it’s my job to be here and prepare for each start.’’
Harvey’s teammates also will gauge the fans’ reaction. “Hopefully they welcome him back. He needs fan support,’’ Jose Reyes said. “One way or another, they’re going to support him if he goes out there and does what he needs to do.’’
Catcher Rene Rivera said that no matter how the crowd reacts, “I don’t think that’s going to affect him. I think that’s over. Whatever happened in the past has happened in the past. I think he moved on. He learned from that and he moved on. He knows he has to go out there and perform. He’s got to go out there and pitch.
“ . . . Stuff happens in life like other people in the world. The only difference, we’re athletes, and anything we do on the outside is going to show more than other people, but I don’t think he’s sensitive at all. I think he’s a normal guy.’’
Jay Bruce added, “I think if he pitches well, they’re going to respond great, and if he doesn’t, they probably won’t, but that’s, you know, the nature of the game. And I don’t think anyone’s too concerned about it . . . We’re expected to perform at a very high level, which is what we expect out of ourselves, obviously. I don’t think a lot of people are in the situation that we’re in, so they don’t really see it the other way. They don’t have the responsibility to see it that way, they’re fans, they want to come and be entertained. And that’s totally their prerogative and their decision they get to make, and that’s part of professional sports.’’
Harvey (2-3, 5.56 ERA) gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in 5 1⁄3 innings in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks last Wednesday.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the mechanics. I felt good last start,’’ he said. “It’ll be good to go out and not really think about that and just be able to attack hitters and concentrate on the game plan that we go over before the game instead of thinking I have to stay with a certain mechanic. We’re kind of past the point of searching for that. We figured out what I need to do. Now it’s just about going out and executing pitches.’’