PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets ace Matt Harvey might be returning from elbow surgery with another nasty pitch.
Throwing batting practice for the second time this spring, Harvey showed off an impressive curveball that neither David Wright or Curtis Granderson were able to hit.
“I always threw sliders and I don’t know where this curveball came from, so it’s nice having that develop,” Harvey said. “I don’t know if I figured something out in my mechanics or it just magically appeared, but it’s nice having that and it felt good out there.”
Overall Harvey threw 24 pitches, not including a pair of pitch-outs, to Wright and Granderson. Wright hit a line drive to center field and Granderson lofted a would-be single into left field.
Harvey last pitched in a major league game on August 24, 2013, and had elbow-ligament replacement surgery two months later. He missed all of last season while rehabbing.
The 25-year-old right-hander said he primarily was a fastball-curveball pitcher while at the University of North Carolina but has relied more on his slider since becoming a professional. According to Fangraphs, Harvey threw a curveball only 13.4 percent of the time in 2013.
“It looked good,” Granderson said of the looping pitch. “It was down in the zone, which is exactly where you want it to be. It’s a pitch you can’t do too much with. No one in our hitting group was able to put a good swing on it — probably because it was down.”
Mets Manager Terry Collins would like Harvey to use his curveball more this season.
“I’m in a big believer in a curveball,” Collins said. “Sliders, obviously you can throw those a lot harder than a curveball, but the plane change on a curveball is a very, very good pitch and it takes less torque to throw a curveball. I always thought Matt had a very, very good one … and I think it’s a good pitch for him. When he’s got it, it’s a little something off his hard stuff that he can throw for strikes.”
Harvey will make his Grapefruit League debut March 6 against the Detroit Tigers and is expected to throw 35-40 pitches. Detroit will start David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young award winner.
“We’re close,” Harvey said. “It’s exciting and, especially being 18 months from a competitive game, it’s a good feeling.”