PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mere minutes before the midnight signing deadline threatened to come and go last August, Mets first-round Draft pick Matt Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras, finally agreed to a contract worth more than $2.5 million. Thus ended months of negotiations, making Harvey a Met.
By that time, however, midsummer had long since passed. Short-season Minor Leagues were wrapping up and advanced leagues were heading into the playoffs, delaying Harvey's professional debut yet again.
"I didn't necessarily want to sign as late as I did, but that's just what happened," Harvey said. "Unfortunately, by then, the season was pretty much almost over, so I just used the offseason to get ready and prepare and hopefully have a successful Spring Training."
Training at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, Harvey, 21, spent the winter throwing bullpen and live batting-practice sessions in an attempt to compensate for four months away from the mound.
"I'm not going to say it's going to be easy, but I've thrown to hitters my whole life," Harvey said. "Once you get out there, you start to get comfortable on the mound again."
Harvey is participating in the organization's annual STEP camp for Minor Leaguers, a program designed to develop the team's top prospects both on the field and in the classroom by providing services such as media and language training. Also among the participants are top prospects Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn and Jeurys Familia.
Vaughn, an outfield prospect and the son of former big leaguer Greg Vaughn, hit .307 with 14 home runs in 72 games last year with Class A Brooklyn.
"It being my first season, I didn't know what to expect," Vaughn said. "Having success made it a whole lot more fun."
Hairston impresses in first Mets action
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It took Scott Hairston precisely one at-bat to endear himself to his new team.
Leading off in the Mets' annual intrasquad game at Digital Domain Park on Friday, Hairston smacked a D.J. Carrasco curveball over the left-field wall for a homer. Two innings later, he took Tim Byrdak deep for his second home run of the game.
"Not bad," Hairston said with a grin. "It felt good today."
Considered a safe bet to land one of two backup jobs in New York's outfield, Hairston is nonetheless aiming to impress his new manager, Terry Collins, in Spring Training.
"I hope I can fulfill that role," Hairston said. "I'm not thinking too much about my role yet. I'm just trying to prepare myself."
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A late rally Friday, capped by Justin Turner's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth, prevented Hairston's team from winning the six-inning intrasquad game. But the Mets were far more interested in the individual performances of their players -- particularly of their new additions.
Carrasco, after allowing Hairston's homer, struck out four consecutive batters and did not allow another hit in two innings. Second baseman Brad Emaus finished 1-for-3 with a strikeout, while one of his direct competitors for the starting job, Daniel Murphy, was 0-for-1 in three innings. Willie Harris, the other favorite for a backup outfield job, hit a solo home run in the sixth. And Ryota Igarashi cruised through two perfect innings, striking out two.
"He had real good zip and a little run at the end, too," Hairston said of Igarashi. "He spotted his fastball really well and had a really good breaking ball, too."
Perhaps a long shot to make the team over the likes of Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta and other hard-throwing bullpen candidates, Igarashi has nonetheless impressed the Mets so far this spring.
"I'm no longer thinking about the injuries," Igarashi said through an interpreter, referring to the strained left hamstring that ended a similar run of success last April. "Last year was last year. This year, I talked to [manager] Terry Collins, and he knows that Japanese pitchers like to throw a lot. He's been very flexible."
Frankie takes Rule 5 Draft pick under his wing
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Out on a back mound at Digital Domain Field on Friday, Pedro Beato was working to make the Mets' roster. And Francisco Rodriguez was helping.
The New York closer has taken an interest in the Rule 5 Draft pick, instructing Beato on Friday to lengthen his stride in an effort to generate more torque on his pitches.
"It's very special to have the fortune to have a guy of his caliber and his notch in the game to be out there working with me," Beato said. "Even for the little stuff, having a guy like him is a great feeling."
Beato has impressed the Mets so far this spring with his mid-90s fastball, but has yet to show consistent breaking-ball command. Due to Rule 5 Draft stipulations, if Beato does not make the team out of camp, the Mets must offer him back to his old organization, the Orioles, for a $25,000 fee.
But if Beato continues to benefit from Rodriguez's tutelage, that may not be an issue.
"It helped a lot," Beato said. "I'm improving little by little. It still doesn't feel as comfortable as I would like it to be coming into the season, but it's a work in progress."
Stiff back keeps Boyer out of intrasquad game
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets reliever Blaine Boyer was scratched from Friday's intrasquad game with a stiff back.
"He said he was fine to pitch," manager Terry Collins said. "We just backed him off. He's fine. He wanted to pitch. He said he was ready. We just said, 'No, not right now.'"
Collins expects Boyer to pitch in relief of Jenrry Mejia in Saturday's 1:10 p.m. ET Grapefruit League opener against the Braves.