(AP) Harvey will try to rehab elbow instead of surgery
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer
Matt Harvey will try to rehab his injured right elbow without reconstructive surgery, a move the young ace hopes is going to keep him on the mound for the New York Mets next season.
Tommy John surgery remains a possibility. Harvey will soon begin a throwing program designed to last as long as six to eight weeks. If he feels pain or other symptoms that hinder his pitching, he likely will need the operation _ which probably would sideline him for 2014.
The decision was announced Tuesday night at Citi Field, one day after Harvey was examined by Dr. James Andrews in Florida to get a second opinion on his right elbow. The 24-year-old was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament by Mets doctors on Aug. 26.
Harvey said Andrews tested his elbow and told him he believed it was “very stable.”
At a long-awaited news conference only minutes before the Mets played the San Francisco Giants, general manager Sandy Alderson said if Harvey eventually needs Tommy John surgery, trying the throwing program first should not prevent the right-hander from returning for the 2015 season.
Stunned by the news last month, Harvey said he would do everything he could to avoid surgery. He spoke with other pitchers who had similar injuries and didn’t require the operation, including Philadelphia right-hander Roy Halladay.
Harvey was so encouraged that a day after his diagnosis, he tweeted that he would be back on the mound next April. Still, the Mets maintained that no decision would be made for a few weeks, until the swelling subsided and Harvey was re-examined.
In the meantime, he was shut down for the rest of the season.
Tommy John surgery has become a common procedure for pitchers, with a great many making successful comebacks after their damaged ligaments were replaced. The recovery and rehabilitation, however, usually takes at least a year.
Harvey started the All-Star game for the National League on his home field in July. He is 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 178 1-3 innings.
The seventh pick in the 2010 amateur draft, Harvey blossomed into one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers this year _ his first full season in the majors. His 98 mph fastball and polished off-speed pitches gave hope to a foundering franchise that is finishing up its fifth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field.
Harvey and Zack Wheeler were the first to arrive from a crop of touted young pitchers the Mets have pinned their future on. New York captain David Wright cited all the hard-throwing talent in the minors as one reason he signed a $138 million, eight-year contract last winter to stay with the team.
With more than $40 million in player salaries coming off the payroll after this season, the Mets expect to be active in free agency. They have long fancied themselves a 2014 contender, but Harvey is certainly a lynchpin.