Steven Matz, who underwent offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow, says he feels healthy and ready for the 2017 season.
The Mets lefthander from Stony Brook said his goal is to make at least 30 starts next season. He’s recently resumed throwing and believes he’ll be ready for spring training.
“I feel on track,” Matz said Thursday during his “Meet the Matz” pitching clinic at Ward Melville High School, his alma mater. “I’m really raring to go. I’m starting to get that itch for spring training coming around and I think a lot of the guys are. That seems to be the trend.”
Matz went 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 132 1⁄3 innings last season. He pitched with bone spurs throughout the season but feels healthy leading up to Feb. 12, when Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Injuries happen in baseball, Matz said, but he hopes to develop an ideal routine to stay healthy.
“You play a lot of games, you throw a lot of baseballs,” he said. “But it’s a part of the game and I think everyone has their own routine and you figure out what works for you. So it’s definitely difficult but guys do it.”
As for the team goals, after an 87-75 season that was good for a wild card, Matz doesn’t see any reason why the Mets can’t be even better this season.
“I think everybody’s really excited,” Matz said. “I talked to Neil Walker, he’s excited to be back. He loved the group of guys we had. Getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back was obviously huge, so none of us have to face him, which is awesome. Our pitching staff, everybody is coming back. Hopefully everybody will be healthy, that’s the main goal is just to stay healthy. On paper, we look great and just got to stay healthy.”
Also at the camp was Anthony Kay, the Mets’ 31st overall pick in the 2016 draft who graduated from Ward Melville in 2013, and a number of college and high school coaches.
Matz has worked Ward Melville baseball camps since playing in the minor leagues, but now with his name attached to it, the popularity has grown.
“I think it’s more special for the kids because they see me pitch on TV,” said Matz, who graduated from the East Setauket high school in 2009. “I try to really emphasize that I’ve been in their shoes. I was exactly where they were at and now I’m able to pitch in the major leagues. I think it’s just that platform you get where you can kind of help the kids out.”
And as campers flooded Matz for autographs and pictures, it’s a reminder of what he’s done for his community.
“It allows Steven to see what we’ve done here because of him,” Ward Melville baseball coach Lou Petrucci said. “This all wouldn’t have happened without Steven Matz. Steven started a whole new generation of baseball players.”