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Harvey to focus on improving 'pen preparation

Mets righty allows homer in second relief appearance
Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO --- After eight innings of Matt Harvey being a spectator, the Mets' bullpen phone rang. The coach on the other end wanted Harvey to get loose -- quickly.

"I didn't know when they were going to put me in and I didn't do a good enough job of staying loose,'' Harvey said.

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SAN DIEGO --- After eight innings of Matt Harvey being a spectator, the Mets' bullpen phone rang. The coach on the other end wanted Harvey to get loose -- quickly.

"I didn't know when they were going to put me in and I didn't do a good enough job of staying loose,'' Harvey said.

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But the Mets didn't lose, holding on for a 5-1 win over the Padres on Friday night. The game included a ninth-inning tightrope act by Harvey, which brought with it few of the game's more exciting moments.

That's fine if you're a fan, but not so much if you're Mets manager Mickey Callaway. When entering the final inning with a 5-0 cushion, having to get the closer hot is never a good thing.

But when Harvey scuffled by allowing a leadoff homer to Franchy Cordero and a walk to Jose Pirela, Jeurys Familia had to throw. But Harvey, in is second relief appearance this year and the third of his career, pitched out of jam thanks to a game-ending double play.

Harvey didn't try to wiggle from reporters afterward, like he did following his first outing. He admitted that his relieving gig has a learning curve that is proving to be steep.

"Obviously I have to do a little bit more throughout the game to make sure I'm ready,'' Harvey said. "I'm just getting used to the preparation by going down there and seeing how the guys get ready. I'm trying to learn from them and pick up little things that may help me get loose.''

Callaway has his ideas as he tries to morph a one-time, top-of-the-rotation pitcher into an effective reliever.

"I talked to him that maybe he can throw a weighted ball 10 times against the wall right when name is called or in the fifth and seventh innings just to keep his body loose,'' Callaway said. "It depends on the individual [how long it takes] but he has always been a starter. So I don't know if it is going to take more time than usual.''

Harvey, after admitting to be ticked off about his demotion, seems to have moved past his initial anger. He's intent on finding his groove again, with his ultimate goal being returning to the rotation.

"I don't think we have a time frame,'' Callaway said. "We'll see what happens. I've seen guys stay out there [in the bullpen] for three months and I've seen them stay out there for five outings.''

Harvey wants to contribute and if it's as a reliever, so be it.

"If I'm going to be down there I want to be effective and be used in tight situations and hopefully we can get to that point,'' he said. "There's preparation work that needs to be done in order for me to be fully prepared and into the game and I wasn't tonight. It's a learning process and I'm just trying to do everything I can.''

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey