Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Harvey Is March Madness on a Mound

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Harvey Is March Madness on a Mound

Article excerpt

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The lineup card hung in the rear of the Mets clubhouse Friday morning, attracting passing eyes and a group of individuals.

At the bottom of the card, written below the starting lineup for the tilt against Detroit, read the last name of the Mets starter. A name that hadn't been printed in 18 months.

As Mets bench coach Bob Geren stood within vicinity of the printout at 8:17 a.m., the individual who would be making his return to the mound approached him from behind.

Matt Harvey then locked his coach in a playful grip.

"Yeah, you're in there Matt," Geren said.

Was he ever.

In a game that had a regular-season feel to it, Matt Harvey captivated a sellout crowd of 7,444 at Tradition Field as he pitched in a game for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery Oct. 22, 2013. Harvey threw two perfect innings in the 5-4 win.

"It's been unbelievable, the support and the excitement that people have," said Harvey, who struck out three and hit 99 mph spanning 25 pitches. "I'm not trying to deny that I'm not excited about being back, but for me, I know there's a long way to go."

The buzz for this day began nine days ago when the Mets announced Harvey would be starting the home exhibition opener, which was televised by SNY. Mets fans had been yearning to see Harvey back on the mound, pitching like an ace, and they finally had their date.

The excitement extended to Harvey's teammates. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud said he felt the adrenaline as soon as he pulled into the parking lot.

"It was the first spring training game I've been nervous for in a while," d'Arnaud said. "It was Harvey day."

As Harvey warmed up for his outing in the bullpen area situated in foul territory down the third base line, fans packed the stands. They snapped photos. They filmed his pitches.

The relievers, like they do for every starter, stood behind Harvey as he tossed 50 warm-up pitches, a show of support he called "pretty special. …

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