Matt Harvey, the ace of the New York Mets who underwent Tommy John surgery just this past October, is reportedly recovering at an unexpectedly rapid pace. When it was announced that Harvey would undergo the surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow it was assumed that he would miss all of the 2014 season. The usual recovery period for someone undergoing this kind of surgery is usually 12-15 months. It can take others even longer and has been known in some cases to take up to two years.
Initially, Harvey eagerly wanted to pitch in 2014 enough that he was prepared to skip surgery and just work on rehabilitation. Ultimately he opted for the procedure because there is a much greater chance of re-injury in taking the former course of action. Harvey says that he knows in the long run he made the right choice by telling Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal,
“It’s frustrating knowing I’m not going to spring training and going to pitch, but going forward, you look at some of the deals that have been made, financially, performance-wise, it was the best decision. Going forward, having a long career, it’s a decision I’m happy I’ve made.”
In an unexpected twist it was recently reported by Dan Martin of the New York Post that Harvey could begin throwing by February 22, exactly four months to the day that his surgery was performed. He is progressing much faster than anticipated and is very optimistic that he may not miss the entire 2014 season. Harvey would like to get in a couple quality starts by September.
Depending on any setbacks in Harvey’s recovery ,and whether or not the Mets are in postseason contention, will likely influence how soon the young phenom will be back in the game. If the Mets are out of contention, there is no reason to rush the 24-year old right hander. The Mets have seen this happen before to Atlanta Braves‘ RHP Brandon Beachy. Beachy, who returned just 13 months after his surgery re-injured himself — requiring yet another surgical procedure. The Mets cannot take that chance with their budding star and Harvey understands that. In his interview with the NY Post he said, “I can’t throw the uniform on and go back on the mound without the permission of higher-ups.”
Harvey coming back by the season’s end would be a month or two short of the usual year-long recovery period, but with the way he is progressing now it looks as though it may be a strong possibility of having an early return. Whether or not the Mets decide to take that chance is another story.
Up until his injury last season, Harvey was performing at a Cy Young-level. He started the 2013 All-Star game at his home park, Citi Field, and was was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA during the 2013 regular season.