Harvey ready to go for KC: 'It's exciting'

August 18th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- It may be right-hander ’s last stop, or a springboard that will resurrect his once glorious career.

Harvey, signed by the Royals as a Minor League free agent last month, will start Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Reds, whom he played for in 2018, on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

Harvey, 31, certainly has a history with the Royals, starting in Game 1 and Game 5 against them in the 2015 World Series when he was with the Mets.

“I wouldn’t say it’s strange being here,” Harvey said in a Zoom call. “It’s more exciting. I remember the electricity here from Game 1. Obviously, it was the World Series but just the fans here, the atmosphere -- it was extremely exciting. It’s going to be different [Wednesday] with no fans, but you’re still playing an opponent with the name of another city on the uniform.”

Harvey, who has been training at Kansas City’s alternate training site, was once one of the dominant pitchers in the game. He posted an ERA of 2.27 in 26 starts for the Mets in 2013. In ‘15, he went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA.

But Harvey has a 5.56 ERA since the beginning of 2016. The Royals are his fourth organization since his Mets days.

“He has a track record,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “You’re hoping to see parts of that again. He has been there and done that. The experience he has, the competitive nature … and he’s highly motivated to show the baseball world the type of pitcher he still is.”

Even Harvey isn’t completely sure what type of pitcher he is now. He is eager to find out.

“Too many times I’ve gone back and watched 2013 highlights,” he said, “and seeing the things I did then and throwing like I did then. I don’t know if it will ever come back. I feel like it will. But I think learning that whatever you have that day on the mound, whatever you have working -- maybe I don’t have a 97-98 fastball that day -- but just go out and fight for every pitch and each out.”

Harvey last pitched in the Majors in 2019 for the Angels -- he had a 7.09 ERA in 12 starts. He was released last season, then signed with Oakland before becoming a free agent last fall. What followed was the uncertainty of playing again.

“I think the amount of work I was continuing to do without knowing about the future,” Harvey said, “and whether I would play again -- I don’t usually say this but I’m very proud of myself for sticking with it. A lot of days I woke up and not knowing if I’d play again, not having a clue if I’d play again.”

The Royals were known to have been interested in Harvey for some time. A deal was struck in late July.

“I was fishing with my dad and brother-in-law when my agent [Scott Boras] called,” Harvey said. “He knew I’d been keeping up with my training and so forth. But I was a little shocked to get the call when I was on a boat. Within a day or two I was here.

“I have a little bit of history here. Everybody I’ve ever talked to -- I’m good friends with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas -- and everything they’ve said about the organization from the ground up has always been nothing but the best and full of class.”

Matheny said there will be no limitations on Harvey, who was stretched out to five innings in simulated games last week.

Perez day to day
Royals catcher Salvador Perez was scratched from Sunday’s game after the vision in his left eye became blurry. He saw an eye doctor on Monday in Minneapolis and felt his vision was good enough to play Monday night, though he was pulled in the sixth inning after the blurred vision returned.

Perez saw an eye specialist in Kansas City on Tuesday and got the same diagnosis as he did in Minneapolis -- a fluid-filled particle is present in that left eye that eventually will dissipate but it is uncertain when. It is also uncertain how the particle got there.

Matheny said Perez remains day to day.