NEW YORK -- Twenty-five times on Tuesday, Matt Harvey climbed to the top of the Citi Field pitcher's mound, glanced toward pitching coach Dan Warthen and threw. This was Harvey's first live batting-practice session since landing on the disabled list June 15 with a stress injury to his right scapula.
NEW YORK -- Twenty-five times on Tuesday, Matt Harvey climbed to the top of the Citi Field pitcher's mound, glanced toward pitching coach Dan Warthen and threw. This was Harvey's first live batting-practice session since landing on the disabled list June 15 with a stress injury to his right scapula. He took it slow, deliberately. He came away healthy.
"It's nice to get on a mound again," Harvey said.
Tuesday's session marked another significant step forward for Harvey, who expects to begin a Minor League rehab assignment within "the next week or so." Once he does so, Harvey said, he does not anticipate needing more than a couple of rehab starts before returning to the Mets.
The math adds up to a return in late August, giving Harvey more than a month to prove his health -- and worth -- heading into the offseason.
"My arm can work the way that it's supposed to," Harvey said. "The strength program that we did for the back of my shoulder, for the scap area, now it's moving the proper way. I was talking to Dan Warthen the other day when I came back from Florida, and I said it was exciting, because it was finally fun to throw a baseball again."
Only after Harvey went on the DL did doctors discover that the muscles in his right shoulder had become significantly smaller than those in his left, likely an aftereffect of the surgery he underwent last summer for thoracic outlet syndrome. Had Harvey continued pitching with a weakened shoulder, he could have suffered a far more serious injury.
As it was, Harvey slogged through two and a half months of the season, going 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA in 13 starts. He has worked since that time to build up shoulder strength.
"Obviously, the name is Matt Harvey and I know that he has good stuff," said Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who stood in Tuesday against Harvey's pitches, popping up a couple. "He's going to be fine. He knows exactly what he's capable of and he won't come back until he's at that point."
Still, it has been two years since Harvey was last completely healthy during his 2015 return from Tommy John surgery. Given the nebulousness of thoracic outlet syndrome -- Twins pitcher Phil Hughes' career is in jeopardy due to a recurrence of TOS symptoms following surgery -- no one can be sure.
That is why even as the Mets fade permanently out of postseason contention, they consider Harvey's return so important.
"I think you'll see Matt back on a mound this year," manager Terry Collins said. "But when? I don't know."
"My goal is to get back out there as soon as I can," Harvey said. "Obviously health and performance are the biggest things. I'm on track to get back hopefully pretty soon, and try and get as many starts as I can toward the end of the year."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.