NEW YORK -- For the first time this season, Matt Harvey admitted publicly on Wednesday that he was worried about his right arm. It turned out that his concerns were well-founded. Testing at Manhattan's Hospital for Special Surgery on Thursday revealed that Harvey has a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. The Mets expect him "to miss several weeks."
"I think it's difficult to speculate how much we can expect to get from him for the rest of the season," general manager Sandy Alderson said.
The Mets at least know now that there is something physically wrong with Harvey, whose four-seam fastball velocity tipped below 90 mph in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 9-4 win over the Cubs. Afterward, Harvey called his arm "tired," saying that it "was just not working at all."
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Following his diagnosis, Harvey received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder. He will rehab until he is pain-free, at which point he will begin a throwing program.
In the interim, the Mets will use a spot starter -- rookie Tyler Pill and others are candidates -- in Harvey's place next Tuesday in Los Angeles, before reverting back to a five-man rotation.
"All I can say is that the amount of time that we expect he will be out is measured in weeks, if not months," Alderson said. "So I'm not sure exactly where we will end up."
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The news was just the latest blow in a difficult season for Harvey, who underwent surgery to remove a rib last July. Although that operation cured Harvey's symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, his rehab left him searching for the fastball command that once made him one of the National League's most-feared pitchers. Over his last nine starts, Harvey walked 30 batters in 45 innings, posting a 6.60 ERA.
But even throughout that slog, Harvey's velocity remained relatively steady until Wednesday. Alderson described the injury as an inflamed bone that could have fractured if left untreated.
"I'm going to try to look on the positive side -- we're very fortunate that he didn't injure himself if his arm was that tired and that weak," manager Terry Collins said. "The surgery certainly took a toll on him, thoracic surgery took a toll on Matt, and now we'll just continue the process of getting his arm built back up. Yeah, we're gonna miss him, no question about it. He's a big piece of our club. But ... those [other] guys are going to have to pick up the load."
Though the Mets again find themselves in a situation with virtually no Major League-tested starting-pitching depth, Alderson said it is too early to begin searching outside the organization for arms. In the interim, the team will focus as much as it can on keeping its five healthy starters -- Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler -- on the field.
"We keep playing," the GM said. "We continue to look at why these injuries are occurring, but we have battled injuries over the last two or three years and we've overcome injuries in the past. We're not unmindful of the fact."