8/2/2014 12:01 A.M. ET
Harvey throws off mound for first time since surgery
By Tim Healey / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey woke up Friday morning, and at long last it was August, the month the club marked as a general time frame for the injured ace to begin his throwing program. So he did.
The right-hander threw 15-20 pitches off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last October, an effort Harvey described as "free and easy" and manager Terry Collins characterized at about 60 percent.
This marks the start of what is expected to be a two-month progression that should set Harvey up for a normal winter and Spring Training.
"It was fun to get back out there and do what I love doing," Harvey said. "It felt pretty normal, so it was definitely a big success."
Harvey's throwing program will begin "in earnest," as general manager Sandy Alderson put it, on Tuesday, when he heads to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to work out at the Mets' Spring Training facility. He'll throw off a mound again that day, then every four days, slowly building up his pitch count. Then comes tossing batting practice and facing some hitters.
"Then it's game time," Harvey said.
Game time, of course, doesn't mean he'll be back on the Citi Field mound this season. Harvey will stay in Florida through the end of September and potentially the first week of October participating in the Mets' Fall Instructional League, and Alderson said Harvey getting into one game in the Arizona Fall League is a possibility.
"There are a lot of options that we have," namely the AFL, Alderson said. "I'm not sure that we'll need to exercise all of those."
Harvey playing in a winter league is not on the table right now, nor is him seeing any Major League action, as far as Alderson is concerned. Harvey, who has maintained throughout the season his desire to see even one inning in the big leagues, left the door open a little more than Alderson did.
"Obviously, the hope and the idea is to make the playoff push, and hopefully in the next two months I can get ready for game action and possibly see what happens," Harvey said. "Obviously, I can't write myself into the lineup, but I think the goal is to be healthy this year and show I can have a normal offseason and prepare for a normal season."
Dice-K feels good after throwing off flat ground
NEW YORK -- Daisuke Matsuzaka threw on flat ground from about 60-75 feet at Citi Field on Friday without issue, a first step back from a sore right elbow that has kept him sidelined since July 25.
"No discomfort today," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I felt fine."
The right-hander indicated he will throw from a greater distance Saturday, and if all goes well, a bullpen session sometime next week is likely.
He will be eligible to return Aug. 9 -- one week from Saturday -- and suggested he might not need to go on a Minor League rehab assignment.
"I think if I'm fine in the bullpen, I should be fine [without a rehab assignment], but we'll have to discuss that as we go along," Matsuzaka said. "We have to take it one step at a time, see how I feel, see how the team feels and go along with that. It's hard to say exactly how many bullpens."
The Mets are not necessarily in a hurry to get Matsuzaka back in the Majors, but they will surely welcome his return. He has been their most versatile hurler this season in addition to posting a 3.87 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Nine of his 28 appearances have been starts.
Matsuzaka, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2011, said his injury history played a role in the decision to exercise caution when he experienced pain last week.
"When this first came up, I probably could've pitched through the pain," Matsuzaka said. "But having experienced Tommy John, I took the safe route and decided to go on the DL to give it some time, make sure everything was all right. Just going out there today felt a lot better. I think we made the right decision."
Wright, Collins want Mets to take it one day at a time
NEW YORK -- David Wright didn't follow Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline excitement too closely -- he instead enjoyed a little family time in the Poconos -- but made sure to catch up when he got back on the grid. All of the moves were fun to see as a baseball fan, Wright said, and he hopes it's not too many years longer until the Mets are among those looking to make midseason additions.
That said, he understood why this Trade Deadline season was a quiet one for the club.
"It's a fine line between trying to improve the team now and the near future, but at the same time, keeping some of these young guys that you think might be a part of and provide success in the future," Wright said.
The bright side of staying put personnel-wise is entering the season's final two months with the same group the Mets have had. New York begins this stretch 5 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card spot and seven games back in the National League East.
That's the closest the Mets have been in the division at this point since 2010.
"It's going to be a challenge for us, especially with some of the younger players that haven't experienced [meaningful baseball in] September," Wright said.
One key, according to Wright, is not to look at the last two months as a whole. The Mets would be better off trying to win this weekend, then get to .500, then three games over .500, and so on.
That's a philosophy manager Terry Collins echoed.
"I'm trying to stay away from numbers. There's enough numbers out there," Collins said. "I can sit there and say, 'Well, geez, if we go 15-10 [and] 15-10, we'll take our chances.' But that may not be good enough. So I'm not going to put any numbers on anything. We got to just go out and try to put a string together and play consistently and see what happens.
"I think when the guys walked in today and looked around the room and saw familiar names on the backs of those uniforms, they took a deep breathe and said, 'OK, let's get after it.'"
Eric Young Jr. has had 14 at-bats since the All-Star break, and despite Collins' continued effort to get all of his outfielders playing time, the manager acknowledged Friday that Young's role right now is essentially a pinch-runner.
"He's another guy that understands it and gets it and keeps himself as ready as he can," Collins said.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.