NEW YORK -- The viewing party was a few dozen in number, pitching coach Dan Warthen among them, with others craning their necks to catch a glimpse. Noah Syndergaard rocked his weight back, shifted forward and threw. About 70 feet away, Matt Harvey caught his tosses and returned them.In a
NEW YORK -- The viewing party was a few dozen in number, pitching coach Dan Warthen among them, with others craning their necks to catch a glimpse. Noah Syndergaard rocked his weight back, shifted forward and threw. About 70 feet away, Matt Harvey caught his tosses and returned them.
In a season fraught with injuries for the Mets, Monday was a banner day at Citi Field. Syndergaard and Harvey both threw for the first time since suffering significant injuries, removing some of the ambiguity from their rehabilitation timeframes. Second baseman Neil Walker also ran for the first time on his injured left hamstring, performing baseball activities without a bulky knee brace.
"It's Day 1," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They looked free and easy."
More difficult and important days will come; for Syndergaard and Harvey, Monday was simply a necessary start. Rehabbing from a right lat strain and a right shoulder injury, respectively, Syndergaard and Harvey made approximately 35 tosses each.
"The first couple throws felt a little weird," said Syndergaard, who had not thrown a baseball since walking off the Nationals Park mound April 30 in Washington. "It felt like a ping-pong ball in my hands. But I felt great. I really wanted to ramp things up there -- that's how good I felt. But I know that I don't need to rush it."
Already, the Mets have played roughly half their season without Syndergaard, a preseason National League Cy Young Award candidate who went 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts prior to his injury. Before tearing his lat, Syndergaard complained to team trainers of biceps irritation, but refused an MRI before taking the mound April 30.
Harvey went 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA in 13 starts before the Mets shut him down with a stress injury to the scapula bone in his shoulder. Once Harvey went on the disabled list in June, doctors discovered that the muscles in his right shoulder were significantly weaker than those in his left -- likely a product of the thoracic surgery he underwent last July.
Both Syndergaard and Harvey were careful not to put timelines on when they might return to the Mets. Each must advance to longer throws off flat ground, then bullpen sessions off a mound, and finally Minor League rehab games. That process should take at least a month, making mid- to late August a best-case scenario for both.
"That's too hard at this stage to answer," Collins said of the pitchers' timeframes. "They'll dictate where they are along the way depending on how they feel and the number of throws they make. … Certainly, it's nice to see them out there. But I don't know when I'll get them back, or if I'll get them back."
"I'm itching to get back out there," Syndergaard said. "I'm ready to roll. From what it felt like today, it was great. I felt like I could get on the mound tomorrow. But I know it's definitely not the smartest thing to do."
Recently, Harvey said, he visited his family in Connecticut, where his nieces and nephews were playing with a baseball. Harvey picked it up, heeding his father's advice not to throw.
That story highlights what Syndergaard called the "mentally challenging" aspect of both pitchers' rehab. Rather than form the core of New York's rotation, Harvey and Syndergaard have watched Jacob deGrom become the Mets' rock this summer, with others shifting in and out of an injury-ravaged unit.
Syndergaard has said that he does not regret forgoing an MRI on his arm prior to tearing his lat. He denied that his weight-heavy offseason workouts had anything to do with his injury, just as Harvey said it's impossible to know if his 2015 workload -- a career-high 216 innings coming off Tommy John surgery, against the advice of doctors -- was a factor.
Either way, Harvey said, "We played five games in the World Series. How could you regret that?"
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.