Mets ace Matt Harvey has opted to have Tommy John surgery. It’s the safe and sane decision considering the risks involved with his initial desire to avoid the procedure, rehab it and pitch.
While many were almost demanding that he have the surgery without benefit of a medical degree to back up their “diagnosis,” Harvey chose to try to get by without the procedure. He went to all the best doctors, spoke to other pitchers who’ve been in his position, presumably had a significant portion of advice from his baseball coach father Ed Harvey and from the Mets front office. It was clear from the start that general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets would have preferred that Harvey have the procedure done so he’d be ready for 2015 without the ambiguity that surrounded a rest and rehab approach, but ultimately it was up to Harvey.
The Mets had explored the possibility of having Harvey pitch in the Arizona Fall League to get a gauge on the level of pain he could tolerate – if there was any – and if he could pitch through the injury. It’s obvious that Harvey tried to throw a few times and came to the realization that it wasn’t going to work and he would need the surgery.
The positive aspect of the delayed decision is that Harvey came to the conclusion and accepted reality on his own and there wasn’t an extended battle with the club that players who have had injuries in the past and disagreed with team recommendations have had. While the Mets are seen as a dysfunctional club who constantly have disputes with players mostly centered on their medical staff, this is not an uncommon occurrence in sports. The Mets had the issue with Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees had it with Alex Rodriguez as well. Since the beginning of baseball, there has been a “tough guys gut through the pain” aspect combined with a “we don’t need any heroes” aspect. If, for example, a pitcher battles through a season with bone chips in his elbow and carries his team to the World Series, he’s a hero. If he goes out there with the same injury and gets shelled, costing his team a chance to win because he didn’t inform the medical staff, he’s selfish.
You can understand the confusion among players.
Harvey is a different breed. He’s confident and does what he feels is right regardless of the potential reactions his decisions will receive. That has extended to his off-field actions as he posed naked for the ESPN body issue, is dating supermodel Anne V and had an embarrassing interview with Dan Patrick that was cringeworthy and bizarre. He wanted to wait and see if the injury was something he could tolerate as Adam Wainwright did for five years before eventually needing the procedure. He spoke to Roy Halladay who had a similar issue and avoided surgery. He did all the right things and now he’s getting repaired. It’s better this way than to try to turn it into an adversarial media circus as franchises tend to do. He’s getting fixed and he decided to do it on his own.