The most encouraging sight at Citi Field on Monday wasn’t going to come during the Mets’ game against St. Louis but before it, when Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey began their throwing programs by playing catch together.
Neither would predict when he would get back on the mound. But Harvey, out with a stress injury to his scapula, talked about pitching again with two months left in the regular season, while Syndergaard, out with a lat strain, expects to make his return around the same time. And when he does, it sounds like he still expects to be Thor.
“It’s great, glad to see [Harvey] out there healthy and throwing the ball again. It’s just really cool being out there with him, another guy who was on the shelf. Hopefully we’re going to return around the same time,’’ said Syndergaard, who has been on the DL since May 1 with a partial tear of his right lat muscle, but said he has been pain-free the past month. “Hopefully feel good [Tuesday] and pick the rock back up again.
“First couple throws felt a little weird; it felt like a pingpong ball in my hands. But I felt great. It was kind of hard [to hold back]. I really wanted to ramp things up there, that’s how good it felt. But I know I don’t need to rush it back.”
Exactly how much Syndergaard has learned is open to question. While he said he’s modified his leg workouts, mobility work and rotator cuff strengthening, he doesn’t plan to scale back his offseason lifting regimen or take anything off his renowned fastball.
“I don’t think my workout program had anything to do with it. I always pride myself on my tremendous work ethic,’’ said Syndergaard (1-2, 3.29 ERA). When asked if he still plans to push his triple-digit heat even faster, he said, “Yeah. I just want to continue to raise the bar. I’ll never become complacent. … I’m itching to get back out there. I’m ready to roll.”
Terry Collins said both Syndergaard and Harvey looked smooth considering it was their first day throwing on flat ground from about 65-70 feet.
“Day 1. They looked free and easy,’’ Collins said. “Obviously both [Syndergaard] and Matt looked like there was no difficulty, if you just watch and see how much arm speed they have. If they’re worried about it being sore, they kind of slow their motion down a little bit. And I thought both of them were very good, loose and free. For the first day of throwing, it was a good sign.”
Harvey went on the disabled list June 16 with a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder.
“I let it go pretty good. Both of us talking after felt great, and we’ll see how we feel [Tuesday] and then we’ll get back out there on Wednesday and progressively build up the distance,’’ said Harvey, who had a platelet-rich plasma injection while sidelined.
“It felt good. It’s been about a month now, so I’ve been feeling good the past couple of weeks and really trying to get the strength back. Haven’t really had any pain since the day after I got the PRP injection, so that was a plus for me.”
Between the regular-season and World Series run, Harvey logged 216 innings in 2015 — the most by a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery — and then proceeded to miss the second half of last year with thoracic outlet syndrome. It and the surgery to correct it weakened the muscles behind his throwing shoulder.
Still, Harvey (4-3, 5.25) said he had no regrets about pitching that many innings, or concerns about his medical treatment.
“No, not at all,’’ Harvey said. “Obviously the performance wasn’t there, but I was still getting stronger start to start. You can’t really anticipate what a season will bring until you get out there and throw 50, 60 innings. Obviously maybe if I’d taken a little bit more time, I don’t know. But you can’t predict those things going into a season.
“I wanted to be out there as much as I could. It just didn’t quite work out that way. … Me wanting to be out there as much as I can, fighting through uncomfortable times, it’s my fault for doing that. I should’ve said a lot more earlier.”
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