Matt Harvey will try to rehabilitate the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Harvey will embark on a throwing plan for six to eight weeks, and will see how his arm handles that, Sandy Alderson told reporters.
“I’ve never had pain in my actual elbow area, where the UCL is,” Harvey said. “For me, it felt like why jump into surgery in a situation where i never had tingling, numbness, shooting pain in my elbow? If rehab is the way to go… then that’s what I want to do.”
Harvey visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday for a second opinion on his arm.
“Nothing was moving in places it shouldn’t,” Harvey said of Dr. Andrews’ tests.
Alderson wouldn’t comment on the severity of the tear, with a tear of 30 percent or more almost always resulting in Tommy John surgery.
“The doctors have never attached a percentage to the tear,” Alderson said.
Tommy John surgery is still possible for Harvey if the rehab doesn’t work.
Previously, Will Carroll said that if Harvey does require surgery, he could wait until December. If he waits until then, the timeline wouldn’t be that much different if he had the surgery now, in relation to preparing for the 2015 season.
“No one should be surprised that Matt Harvey has chosen not to have Tommy John surgery. He’ll continue to rehab it and see where it goes. Got to take the shot to avoid surgery when you can,” Carroll said in a video post to Instagram.
“It won’t effect our plans as much as suggested,” Alderson said. “We have depth at starting pitching. I don’t see us working hard if he can’t come back.”
“Last three weeks have been tough,” Harvey said. “I want to be pitching. Not knowing it a tough process. Everything feels normal. I know there are some symptoms of forearm tightness, but I’ve never had elbow pain or sharp pain. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
Harvey will start his throwing program off flat ground in the next few days.
“One thing you shouldn’t expect…” Alderson warned. “Rigid deadlines.”
Sandy Alderson and Matt Harvey talk about the decision for Harvey to rehab his elbow for the next 6-8 weeks instead of getting surgery.
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Matt Harvey will go back to the doctor in three weeks, at which point the swelling in his elbow will have subsided and doctors can better determine the extent of the ligament tear in his elbow, Terry Collins told MLB Network Radio last Friday.
In the end, the decision to have surgery or not will be determined by the doctors, Sandy Alderson, Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras.
“This is definitely something to keep your eye on,” a front office executive recently told the Daily News. “It might be in his best interest to just have the surgery now, and move on with his career, but if the player doesn’t want to do it, you never know. And you know (agent) Scott (Boras) is going to have a big say in this. There are a lot of moving parts here.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
In some ways, Harvey’s follow-up visit is this team’s biggest game of the year. The happenings on field seem secondary, at this point.
The way I understand, there is a certain percentage of a tear that will require surgery if he ever wants to pitch again. If it’s a small tear, doctors may recommend surgery, but it will not be required. If it’s an even smaller tear, Harvey can work hard with rehab and likely be ready for Opening Day next season, and maybe even strengthen himself — like Roy Halladay did — to avoid elbow surgery entirely… for now.
If it’s the worst case scenario, the choice is obvious: surgery. However, if it’s the middle range, where surgery is recommended, but not required — like Adam Wainwright — the most difficult decision will need to be made: to have surgery, miss a year and come back later, or pitch now, punt on surgery and hope for the best.
What’s more, what does this mean for his next contract? What does it mean for Alderson’s off-season plan? There are a lot of moving parts and things to be considered.
Read More: Daily News (Martino)
At the request of Terry Collins, Roy Halladay talked with Matt Harvey for 20 minutes about his elbow injury, the manager told reporters Wednesday.
“I really appreciated it,” Collins said about Halladay, according to the New York Times. “A guy like him, just the fact that he’s going to talk to an opponent and give the time to a guy he doesn’t know, speaks a lot about the character of Roy Halladay. And you know what, when you’re Matt Harvey, that’s the guy you want him to be.”
Halladay was shut down September 2006 with pain in his throwing elbow. Similar to Harvey, Halladay had to wait for the swelling to go down in his elbow before doctors could recommend a course of action. Ultimately, despite the initial fear, doctors found no serious tear in Halladay’s elbow. Instead of having surgery, Halladay rehabilitated his elbow and started the next year’s spring training.
In an interview Wednesday with ESPN 98.7 FM, Sandy Alderson said that, while there is always the possibility surgery could be avoided, he doesn’t want Harvey getting his hopes up.
“Typically, in these situations where denial is part of one’s reaction, the passage of time usually helps with that,” Alderson said.
By the way, according to Halladay, if he were to start a franchise, Harvey is the guy he would want, he told Newsday.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
It’s all about that next visit between Harvey and his doctor, at which point they’ll determine how bad the tear is in his elbow.
The way I understand, there is a certain percentage of a tear that will require surgery if he ever wants to pitch again. If it’s a small enough tear, doctors may recommend surgery, but it will not be required. If it’s an even smaller tear, Harvey can go nuts with rehab, therapies and likely be ready for Opening Day, and maybe even strengthen himself — like Halladay — to avoid elbow surgery entirely.
If it’s the worst case scenario, the choice is obvious: surgery. However, if it’s the middle range, where surgery is recommended, but not required — like Adam Wainwright — the real, difficult decision will need to be made: to have surgery, miss a year and come back later, or pitch now, punt on surgery and hope for the best.
The buzz from Citi Field seems to be that — given the timeline and how the tear evolved — no one expects to learn of a devastating tear. It’s likely to be one of the “better” two options, but no one will know until Harvey’s next doctor visit, which will likely be a couple of weeks from now.
Read More: Newsday, ESPN New York, New York Times, CBS Sports,
Matt Harvey’s agent Scott Boras doesn’t believe the Mets acted improperly in regards to Matt Harvey and his elbow.
“With his age, and he’s a power pitcher and the whole thing, this is a very normal course for a major leaguer,” Boras said, according to ESPN New York. “It’s how you develop players. There’s nothing on that front that I think is an issue at all.”
Harvey had thrown 178 1/3 innings this season. Sandy Alderson said in June that Harvey would throw no more than 210 innings this season after throwing 169 1/3 innings in 2012.
Boras reiterated a need for patience with Harvey’s condition before everyone decides whether or not surgery is the proper course.
“When you’re talking about the term ‘partial tear,’ you’re talking about 5 percent to 95 percent,” Boras explained. “You have to get in and get the specifics and get more information medically before we can really make a determination as to what we’re dealing with.”
Harvey is 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts this season, having thrown 2,697 pitches in his 178 1/3 innings with a league-high 191 strikeouts.
Michael Baron, Contributor
It’s easy to point fingers and question what and the why over this injury. It really hurts, and it’s natural to want answers to satisfy the pain. But, in listening to Terry Collins and Sandy, and talking with others about player development and how teams handle young pitchers, I don’t see how the Mets screwed up the process. Sandy has said on several occasions they intended to limit Harvey’s innings count to no more than 215 innings (he’s currently at 178 with four weeks to go). They have been trying to manufacture ways to give both Harvey and Zack Wheeler extra days in between starts to limit their use, and throughout the player development process, they have followed their own standard protocol by increasing their innings limit by 30 or so innings from year-to-year (which is not unlike any other system in the game).
This could have happened anywhere at any time, potentially even before Harvey ever signed his first professional contract. Unfortunately, it happens and it sucks, especially when it happens to a team’s best pitcher with so much riding on him.
Read more: Rubin, ESPN New York
“Thank you everyone for the kind words and support,” Matt Harvey said Tuesday on Twitter. “I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
5:05 pm: Umm, what’s that? April 1? So, does this mean he isn’t having surgery? Or, maybe it means he thinks he isn’t having surgery? Or, maybe he’s delusional? I can’t wait to find out more… In any case, I heard the Batman music when I read this tweet, and then got chills… fingers crossed.
5:27 p.m.: Sandy Alderson on Harvey’s tweet: “If that’s his tweet, that’s his tweet.”
Harvey was put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow.
Alderson said Monday that Harvey needed to wait to meet with his doctor after swelling subsided, in a week or so, in order to determine if Tommy John surgery would be needed.
In a post for Bleacher Report, injury expert Will Carroll said it’s possible Harvey could chose to pitch with a partially torn UCL, as others have done in the past.
According to Carroll, if Harvey is able to avoid surgery, he should be ready for spring training. However, if he is forced to have Tommy John surgery, he will miss a minimum of 10 months and likely would miss the entire 2014 season
To read other questions and answers about Harvey’s injury, check out this post from earlier in the day on MetsBlog.
Will Carroll has been writing about sports injuries for 12 years, appearing in SI.com and ESPN.com. He now writes for Bleacher Report, where today he answered every question you probably have about Matt Harvey.
In Carroll’s opinion…
- It’s worth it for Harvey to wait, possibly until December, to have the surgery
- Harvey was not showing signs of fatigue, according to advanced research on PitchFX
- It’s very hard to call anything the Mets did with Harvey overuse
- The team did a reasonable job of trying to keep their ace healthy
- The Brewers and Orioles are the only teams that spend money to do biomechanical evaluations on all their pitchers
- If he is able to avoid surgery, he will be ready for spring training
- If he is forced to have Tommy John surgery, he will miss a minimum of 10 months and likely would miss the entire 2014 season
- Harvey’s doctor, Dr. Altchek, is one of the top surgeons performing Tommy John today
In the end, assuming Harvey has surgery, and given the standard timeline, Carroll expects Harvey to pitch again at nine months and be back in a major league rotation in a year.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I’ve heard Altchek and the team remain hopeful surgery can be avoided or delayed, but that will only truly be determined at Harvey’s next exam, at which point Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras, can decide what road to take. It’s worth noting that Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright and Ervin Santana were in similar situations and chose not to have surgery, instead they went all-in on an alternative therapy plan, which I expect Harvey to entertain. Of course, in most cases, like Wainwright, the pitcher ended up having the surgery anyway, but not until after he got in a few successful years in the big leagues.
The question for Harvey will be, assuming surgery is recommended: Does he get the surgery now and miss his entire second full season, and risk never being the same again? Or, does he punt, cross his fingers, get in three or four big years, sign a big contract and hope it doesn’t blow up in his face? For the Mets, it’s the difference between having Harvey now or later, but it’s ultimately going to be his choice to make.
To read more from Carroll, whose post is titled Everything You Need to Know About Matt Harvey’s Elbow Injury and Recovery, click here.
Matt Harvey has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which will end his season and may require Tommy John surgery.
Harvey will wait two to three weeks for swelling to go down before deciding whether to have surgery.
In the meantime, there are questions…
In the Bergen Record, Bob Klapisch wonders why Sandy Alderson, Harvey and Terry Collins were not more proactive in diagnosing the injury:
“Warrior that he is, Harvey downplayed the discomfort, telling his bosses it was nothing unusual, nothing more than the cost of doing business with nuclear heat. But given the Mets’ abysmal record of managing injuries, why weren’t they proactive when it was clear Harvey wasn’t improving? There’s nothing normal about forearm tenderness that doesn’t heal. Again, Harvey ignored every warning sign, noting, “There was no shooting pain down my arm and in my hand.” But what would’ve been the downside to slipping that arm into an MRI tube?”
Alderson said Monday that Harvey had been getting preventative treatment on his elbow since Spring Training, though he did not have any abnormal pain just some “forearm tightness.” There was no indication of tenderness in the elbow until after his last start. Nevertheless, “He’s been treated for forearm issues for some time,” the GM said.
In the Daily News, John Harper writes: “It’s fair to wonder why the Mets didn’t act sooner. … It also seemed curious that Collins said he wasn’t aware Harvey had been getting treatment for the forearm tightness. Weren’t the Mets supposed to have solved the injury follies that haunted them in recent years? Finally, as SNY analyst Bob Ojeda noted, if Harvey had any forearm issue, someone should have at least stopped him from throwing so many sliders.”
Alderson said doctors had been more than satisfied with the condition of Harvey’s elbow ligaments… up until this most recent exam, of course. In the end, Alderson was suggesting the injury was mostly unavoidable, even with the innings cap he instituted earlier in the year.
“Terry Collins had expressed concern throughout the season that Harvey’s full-throttle, upper-90s fastball from wire-to-wire during outings might end up costly,” Adam Rubin writes for ESPN New York. “The manager had implored the ace to dial it back at points during games and be content with coaxing groundouts with low-90s fastballs.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I understand that some want Harvey to go under the knife now, but a) the team can’t order him to have surgery, it’s his call, and b) it’s foolish to operate with so much swelling in the elbow. So, we will all wait…
In regards to finding a scapegoat, I think it’s always smart to ask questions about who knew what and when. However, it’s also true that injuries just happen. Pitchers get hurt. It’s what they do.
I think Klapisch brings up a good point, because it does seem odd Harvey was allowed to throw so hard for so long, considering the treatment he was getting. At the same time, the team had a plan, there was a limit, he was being examined, the Mets were skipping his starts, but even the most prudent approach doesn’t always matter… just ask the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg was essentially put in bubble wrap — no one was more protected than he was — and he still couldn’t avoid injury.
This hurts. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The Mets have conditioned me to see baseball as a three-ring circus with clown cars and steel cage battles, so my instinct is to assume Harvey’s injury could be avoided. But, maybe it was inevitable. Or maybe it’s just bad luck… again.
In the meantime, Sandy, can you ask Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard to start sleeping in a TemperPedic MRI machine, encased in ice and wrapped in Styrofoam? Thanks.
Read More: Bergen Record, Newsday, New York Times, New York Post, Daily News, Wall Street Journal, Star-Ledger, MLB.com.