Harvey checks all boxes in spring debut
Righty: 'I feel like I'm 21 years old again and starting my career'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels were hoping for three innings and 40-50 pitches from Matt Harvey when he made his Cactus League debut against the Rockies on Wednesday, and the veteran right-hander delivered on both counts.
Hitting 92-96 mph consistently with his fastball, Harvey threw 44 pitches over three frames in the Angels' 6-5 win at Salt River Fields, allowing one earned run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Harvey, in the midst of the first Spring Training of his career with a team other than the Mets, admitted feeling jittery in the early stages of the game -- partly out of anxiousness to test his pitches in live game action and partly because he was simply happy that he was feeling healthy and able to throw his pitches the way he wanted.
"Definitely some nerves," Harvey said. "I texted a few people before the game and said I feel like I'm 21 years old again and starting my career in the big leagues. It was fun, it was good to finally get out there."
Before this outing, Harvey's spring consisted of a three-day delay from conditioning with a glute strain, and pitching in a "B" game against the Diamondbacks on a back field at the Angels' spring facility.
The stakes were only slightly higher against the Rockies -- this is still just Spring Training, after all -- but the quality of the Colorado lineup, which featured All-Stars Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, gave Harvey more of a feel for an actual game.
"It's still early," Harvey said. "Getting more comfortable and being free and easy and letting yourself go and not be so mechanical...things will start coming out easier."
Still, this was an optimistic first step. Harvey zipped through a nine-pitch opening inning, throwing mostly fastballs that registered anywhere from 92-96 mph.
The second inning featured mostly curveballs, and that was by design. Of the 17 pitches in that frame, eight were curveballs, a pitch Harvey hasn't had a lot of success with in past seasons but one that pitching coach Doug White is hoping the right-hander will try to bring back into the fold.
Going heavy on the pitch in the second inning was something Harvey and catcher Jonathan Lucroy discussed ahead of time.
"I just haven't felt comfortable throwing it at all," Harvey said. "Doug really wanted me to bring that back into the repertoire. We've been working on that a lot. The only way to work on it and get it better is game action."
Harvey, who signed a one-year contract worth $11 million in December, is viewed as less of a reclamation project now than he was when he first was traded to the Reds six weeks into the 2018 season, a transaction that ended a very public and tumultuous relationship with the Mets.
The right-hander enjoyed a modest resurgence with Cincinnati last year, posting a 4.50 ERA over 24 starts, numbers that suggest he could still be effective at this level, even with slightly less electrifying stuff than what made him a star in New York.
Away from the big-city spotlight, Harvey's persona today is less "Dark Knight" and more of a humble veteran who is looking to continue to jump-start a Major League career that has been thwarted in past years by a host of injuries.
Blending in with his new team has been seamless so far for the right-hander, who will turn 30 the day before Opening Day, on March 27. With the Angels, Harvey is doing normal things veteran pitchers do this time of year to get ready for a season, rather than field endless questions about why he's unable to get through an outing.
"He's not trying to draw attention to himself," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's just like one of the other pitchers, running through all the same drills, doing all of the same mound work and pitch work. He's just one of the guys."