The biggest New York Mets story is not Zack Wheeler, David Wright or Curtis Granderson. The player who gets the most attention will spend the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Matt Harvey is stealing the spotlight from his team.
Reporters and the Mets fan base are more concerned about where he will rehab from surgery than with players who will be on the field in 2014.
Wheeler could emerge as an ace this year. Still, the injured ace of spades is a hotter topic.
Harvey has the right to negotiate which rehab facility he will use through the Major League Baseball Player Association’s Basic Agreement. But he did not have to turn the ordeal into a media field day.
They ultimately came to an agreement in which Harvey will rehab with the team on home stands and fly to the team’s spring training facility in Florida while the Mets are away. Harvey will follow this routine until he is ready to pitch in minor league rehab games in Florida.
Earlier this month, the Mets expressed their desire for him to rehab exclusively in Florida. Harvey vented his frustrations about the request to the New York Daily News in an interview with MLB Insider Andy Martino last week.
Harvey did not just challenge the organization’s wishes, but also Mets public relations officer Jay Horwitz.
"Jay,” Harvey said. “If somebody needs to talk to the Players’ Association, I have a right to have him writing about me.”
The controversy brings unnecessary attention to him and away from the team. Not even Cy Young winners Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana griped about the location of their past rehab assignments with the Mets.
An outspoken athlete through social media, he also decried the Mets for trying to muzzle him.
“It’s just the fact that I have been not allowed to talk to anybody, and that every tweet or Instagram I send is, do not write,” Harvey told Martino.
On January 13, he responded to a Yankees fan on Twitter who questioned his humility. By responding and retweeting, Harvey brought unsavory comments to light that his followers would not have seen otherwise.
Harvey needs attention. He wanted Mets fans to be infuriated by the Yankees logo in his avatar and rush to his aid. Someone of his stature reacting to someone with under 300 followers shows insecurity.
He has vocalized his love from the bright lights and extravagance of New York on numerous occasions. He created a buzz in 2012 and took baseball by storm last season with his electric fastball, high strikeout rate and command. But at the end of the day he has only 36 starts in his young career.
His desire to return late in the season is admirable, but declaring that there will be a Harvey Day in 2014 via Twitter when general manager Sandy Alderson is adamant the target is next year is hardheaded. Harvey later deleting the tweet only elevated the media’s obsession with yet another story that should not have seen the light of day.
If he comes back strong in 2015 and excels as he has in the past, all of this will be under the rug. But the city will be cruel if he stumbles.
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