By IRA PODELL, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mets ace Matt Harvey’s ailing elbow is feeling better, and the right-hander said Tuesday he is still optimistic he can avoid reconstructive surgery that would likely sideline him for all of next season.
Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday before deciding whether he will undergo Tommy John surgery.
“Everything feels fine, my arm feels great,” the 24-year-old right-hander said. “I am still very optimistic about everything, but I am not a doctor so we will see what happens.”
In his first public comments since Aug. 26, when the Mets said he had a partial ligament tear, Harvey said he hasn’t yet had a second MRI to determine the best course of action going forward.
He has been icing his elbow and riding a stationary bike since he was shut down for the season last month. Harvey said the swelling is down and that pain subsided two days after he put a ball down.
“We wanted to get the second opinion, let the swelling settle down before we went in and started any rehab or anything like that,” he said. “We’re going to wait to see how Monday goes with Dr. Andrews.
“I am not going to make an immediate decision while I am down there. Whether it is another week or whatnot, I am going to talk to as many people as I can. If we do go the surgery route, having it sooner so maybe I can get back in September next year … it’s a possibility. We haven’t gotten that far.”
Harvey, the All-Star game starter for the National League, joined Mets teammates David Wright and Zack Wheeler, along with Jeff Wilpon– the team’s chief operating officer– at a Manhattan firehouse in advance of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York.
Harvey was in middle school in Connecticut on the day the World Trade Center was struck by hijacked airliners.
“I still remember hearing about it,” he said. “It was a scary time. We didn’t know what was going on. We were so young and so close. I had spent a lot of time in New York City, and realizing what was really going on was a scary moment.
“The way that America bounced back and handled everything, it was something really special to see.”
Wright, who is also sidelined by injury, has been a regular visitor to firehouses as the anniversary of the attacks approaches each year.
Photos and memorials to the 16 firefighters from Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, who were killed that day adorn the walls at the station. The players posed for photos with current firefighters, adorning helmets and coats, before signing hats and baseballs.
Wright remembers fondly the home run hit by Mets catcher Mike Piazza, the club’s star of that time, in their first home game after the attacks.
“That is probably my favorite baseball moment of all time, watching Mike Piazza hit that home run, and the USA chants, and the American flags,” Wright said. “Just for that split-second, the city of New York got distracted a little bit from that tremendous tragedy.
“As I’ve said a million times, it’s a shame we only get to celebrate these men and women once a year, and it has to be under these circumstances. I couldn’t be more appreciative, and I look forward to this trip every year.”
Harvey expressed similar thoughts on his first visit to the firehouse. He could very well be back there again next year. Whether he will be back on the mound is a much bigger question mark.
“I am going to get as many opinions as I can,” Harvey said. “Which way I decide to go, I am going to go 150 percent. You have to weigh the risk of having surgery. In my mind, if I can rehab and throw for 10-plus years like (Phillies pitcher) Roy Halladay has then … but everyone is different.
“I can go off how I feel and what I believe in, but when it’s a doctor’s decision and he’s throwing issues out there that are not going to be able to help from rehab, then obviously decisions will have to be made.”
If Harvey faces a long recovery period, the Mets would like for him to get started on it as soon as possible.
“I know Matt and the organization don’t want to lose two years,” Wilpon said. “If it’s got to be a year, and that’s what it ends up being, then we’re prepared for that and we’ll deal with it. I don’t think anybody wants it to be longer than that.”
NOTES: Mets left-handed reliever Scott Rice underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair bilateral sports hernias. … SS Ruben Tejada was recalled from Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He had been optioned to Las Vegas on July 7. … The Mets’ 2014 schedule was released Tuesday. New York will open the season at home on March 31 against Washington. The Mets will play exhibition games against Toronto at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on March 28-29, the first major league games there since the Expos’ final game on Sept. 29, 2004, before the franchise moved to Washington. … Wilpon said a report that the Mets would be leaving WFAN radio was “fairly accurate” and added “we are still negotiating with numerous parties about what we are going to do with our radio rights.”
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