Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Timing of Matt Harvey's decision seems like a betrayal

Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey delivers in the

Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey delivers in the top of the first inning in a game against the Washington Nationals on Friday, July 31, 2015 at Citi Field. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

It's more what Matt Harvey didn't say during his dugout news conference before Saturday's game at Marlins Park. Given the chance to defuse the inflammatory comments made by his agent, Scott Boras, Harvey instead delivered another self-serving punch to the gut of Mets Nation.

Rather than side with the Mets -- the team he plays for -- and stick to the plan he's discussed with them from Day 1, Harvey chose to rally with Boras around the 180-inning limit, an alarm his agent sounded Friday on a number of media outlets.

"I hired Dr. [James] Andrews to do my surgery and I hired Scott for a reason," Harvey said. "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."

This might be a good time to add that Harvey currently stands at 1661/3 innings, and according to this new math, it would allow him two more starts for the regular season -- Tuesday against the Nationals in D.C. and one other.

As for the playoffs, Harvey didn't say so specifically, but given that he opted out of answering that question, we'll take that as a no-go for October.

As of now, the Mets might as well replace the No. 33 on his chest with the No. 180.

When a reporter asked Harvey if he could assure fans that he'll pitch in the postseason, he replied: "I'm focused on Tuesday."

We didn't need any guarantees from Harvey, because there's no such thing. But he could have handled it so much differently.

He could have said he is confident in the plan that's been mapped out with the Mets. He could have said he hopes to start in October but that the team still has a lot to accomplish before then. He could have said anything other than what he did say Saturday -- or preferred to leave out of the conversation.

The NL East-leading Mets have a five-game lead over Washington with a huge series against the Nationals looming. Now they're wondering what to do with a me-first teammate in the clubhouse.

And the members of the front office? They were blindsided by Harvey, especially after their meticulous efforts to protect him.

When contacted Saturday by phone, Sandy Alderson didn't want to say much until he has a chance to speak with Harvey, which he intends to do Monday. But as far as the general manager is concerned, the plan remains the same -- until Harvey decides to change it.

"Ultimately, it's his decision," Alderson told Newsday. "It's not the team's and not his agent's. If he's not prepared to pitch, he's not prepared to pitch."

That's the bottom line, really. It's always been in the Mets' best interests to do whatever possible to limit Harvey's innings this season, and they've done that.

Maybe they could have pushed a little harder with the six-man rotation, or skipped Harvey more frequently early on, but they didn't in order to abide by his wishes.

Now the Mets feel somewhat betrayed by Harvey's camp, and the pitcher himself behaved Saturday as if he were headed for free agency this November instead of after the 2019 season.

"As far as being out there, being with my teammates and playing, I'm never going to want to stop," Harvey said. "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."

But now? With only a month left in the season?

The Mets insist they've consulted with their medical staff regularly on Harvey's progress and that he never suggested there was a reason to deviate from that blueprint. Never was it suggested that Harvey had to be shut down immediately once he reached 180 innings. All along, Harvey certainly seemed as if he were on board with that.

Obviously, a pitcher's health is paramount, and no one should put that at risk. But why is he drawing a line in the sand here in the first week of September?

If he truly thinks he's protecting himself, he's going about it the wrong way. In going rogue, he may have done irreparable damage to his relationship with the Mets and alienated the fan base that once adored him.

It's a good thing for Harvey that Tuesday's start isn't at Citi Field.

New York Sports