Jeremy Hefner recently re-injured his surgically repaired UCL, and is likely headed for a second Tommy John surgery. According to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, Hefner’s injury may impact the pace at which the rehabbing Matt Harvey goes.
After reiterating that it’s very unlikely that Harvey will pitch in a major league game this season, Alderson said that he has spoken to Harvey about Hefner’s injury and he believes that Harvey, who he described as always aggressive, will “at least take this” (Hefner’s injury) into account.
Alderson noted that doctors have referred to Hefner’s injury as a rare occurrence, but said that perhaps it would be feasible for Harvey to advance only to bullpen sessions and throw those until spring training. If that were the case, Harvey wouldn’t pitch during live batting practice or in a game in the Fall league or Instructional league.
Harvey is currently working from the slope of the mound. The next step will be bullpen sessions, then live batting practice, and finally game action.
Being cautious with Matt Harvey makes all the sense in the world. Slowing him down if there’s a valid reason to slow him down would be prudent. However, slowing him down because another pitcher suffered an injury would be shortsighted.
The Mets already slowed Harvey down a few months ago when they thought he was moving too quickly. He’s now basically on a to-be-expected pace, and is being closely monitored by team personnel and doctors.
While it’s understandable for Harvey to look at Hefner’s re-injury as a cautionary tale, it’s important to note that no way is inferring that what happened to Hefner happened because he rushed.
No matter how fast or slow a rehabbing pitcher goes, there’s always a chance they’ll get hurt again. Just like any other pitcher can get hurt at any time – no matter what precautions they take.
Matt Harvey should continue to go at the pace that his rehab allows and the pace that the doctors approve.
If that pace includes live batting practice and/or games prior to spring training, Harvey should participate.
Being cautious is and always has been the proper course of action, but slowing Harvey down out of fear is not the right move here.