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Mets extra cautious with live young arms

Matt Harvey #70 of the New York Mets

Matt Harvey #70 of the New York Mets pitches during a preseason game against the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park. (March 5, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

DENVER -- Chris Schwinden, not Matt Harvey, started for the Mets against the Rockies on Friday night.

On Wednesday, Harvey started for Triple-A Buffalo. He threw seven shutout innings and hit a home run.

The Mets, according to manager Terry Collins, are going to resist temptation with their top pitching prospects. They are sticking to their plan of giving Harvey and Jeurys Familia "the majority of the year in Triple-A," Collins said before the game Friday.

That's still true even after the likely season-ending Tommy John surgery for Mike Pelfrey, who will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday for what is expected to be a confirming second opinion.

Schwinden will get "an extended look" in Pelfrey's spot, Collins said. Behind him, the Mets have Jeremy Hefner in Triple-A, Miguel Batista in the bullpen and Chris Young almost ready to pitch in extended spring games in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

So don't expect to see Harvey in Flushing anytime soon.

"If Harvey was down there and was 5-0 and was just ridiculous, then you're like, 'Yeah, all right,' " assistant general manager John Ricco said. "He's done OK. He strings a few of these together and you might change your mind. That's what you're looking for."

Harvey, 23, is 2-1 with a 4.85 ERA for Buffalo in his first taste of Triple-A action. Pitching on Wednesday against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Harvey gave up four hits and no walks, and struck out five.

"He's moved pretty quickly, and obviously is a college kid, so he should move quick, but I don't think there was really a lot of discussion ," Ricco said. "We came out of spring training with a mind-set of, 'Let's let him get down there and get acclimated to some of the higher levels.' He was in A-ball half the year last year and pitched in Double-A at the end of the year and was OK, not great. But good. Comes into spring, gets a taste of big-league camp. Now, let's let him settle in in Triple-A a little bit before we throw too much at him.

"His most recent start was dominant. But that's exactly what you expect. He's going to have peaks and valleys. As Paul DePodesta says all the time, 'We know he can come up and compete. We want him to come up and succeed.' It makes it a little bit easier because you know you're doing it for a certain reason -- so that when he does come up, he can hit the ground running."

Familia, 22, is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA. He had a rough start Friday, allowing two runs and walking seven in three innings. This is also his first season above Double-A.

Under a previous regime, the Mets were guilty of rushing top prospect Jenrry Mejia to the majors. Mejia is only now recovering from Tommy John surgery.

"We have guys like Chris, we have Miguel, that's why we have a pecking order," Ricco said. "Unfortunately in the past, we've continued at certain times -- and other teams have had this, too -- where you get so many injuries, you're just like, 'OK, he's our best option and is advanced enough, let's just give it a shot.' "

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