How Matt Harvey is trying to fight off the baseball end he fears
Matt Harvey headed back to the East Coast in March at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, traveling to his sister’s house in Rhode Island.
But unlike any spring since he got drafted by the Mets in 2010, Harvey didn’t leave a spring training site. Rather, he had been throwing at his agent Scott Boras’ facility in southern California.
After working out for the Blue Jays in Connecticut in February, Harvey wasn’t offered a contract. He’s still looking for a new team — a challenge that’s been heightened by the sport being shut down by COVID-19.
Although he’s only 31 years old and is injury-free, the former ace admits he’s considered the possibility he may not get another chance.
“I have thought about it here and there,” Harvey told The Post by phone in a recent interview. “I haven’t not had a job in 10 years. It’s definitely different, but it’s exciting at the same time because I feel so good mechanically.
“I hope somebody gives me a shot. I feel like I have many more years in me.”
The last few haven’t been kind to the right-hander, who burst onto the New York scene in 2012, exploded into a superstar and started the All-Star Game at Citi Field the following season, underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2013 campaign and returned in 2015 to help the Mets to the World Series.
Along the way, there were seemingly just as many controversies as highlights.
The public battle he and Boras had with the Mets’ front office about innings limits in 2015 was ugly, but the end result was Harvey logging a combined 216 innings (regular season and postseason) en route to the team’s first World Series appearance since 2000.
The following season, though, Harvey wound up needing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome and has never been the same.
He returned in 2017, pitched poorly and found himself in the middle of another mess when he didn’t show up for a game at Citi Field in May and was suspended for three games.
A rough early part of the 2018 season led to the Mets designating Harvey for assignment in May when the right-hander declined to be sent to the minors. The Mets shipped Harvey to the Reds, where he pitched inconsistently, but still earned a one-year, $11 million deal from the Angels in the offseason.
Harvey was released by the Angels last July with a 7.09 ERA and signed with the A’s on a minor-league deal in August. He finished the season in the minors with Oakland but remains a free agent. He’s aware his career might suddenly be over.
“I’m throwing bullpens once or twice a week,” Harvey said. “I hope I get the opportunity. I feel like I’m in high school again, where I have to showcase myself and start all over. I just want to put myself in position to be ready and if it doesn’t work out, to know I put the effort in to make a comeback.”
Drafted seventh overall by the Mets in 2010, Harvey made his MLB debut July 26, 2012 and finished with a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts. By the end of May in 2013, Harvey was 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA, on his way to starting the Midsummer Classic in Queens that summer.
But the days of the Dark Knight were short-lived.
“I’ve grown up and matured on and off the field,” Harvey said. “There are a lot of things I’d do differently, but I don’t like to live with regret.”
Now, he said he’s back to basics, working with his father, Ed, who was his coach at Fitch Senior HS in Groton, Conn.
“This has kind of been a blessing,” said Harvey, who posted a video to Instagram throwing one pitch last week. “In the offseason, I still had some bad habits from last year and I might have rushed through to hash them out. Now I have time to work on things. My dad has looked at video going back to 2013 and ’15 and even Cincinnati. I’m trying to get back to that.”
And if he doesn’t, he won’t look back on that 2015 run with anything but satisfaction — other than with the way it ended in World Series Game 5 against the Royals, when Harvey and the Mets surrendered a ninth-inning lead after Harvey controversially talked his way into letting Terry Collins allow him to return to the mound for the ninth.
“I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” Harvey said. “I just wish I could have finished the job. We’ll see what happens to see where I end up.”
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