NEW YORK -- As teammates clambered to the top step of the dugout, Matt Harvey took the mound Saturday amid an unusual scene at Citi Field. Throwing multiple innings in a simulated game, Harvey put in the extra work that he hopes will help him begin climbing out of his career-worst funk.
A good chunk of the Mets' clubhouse, including several players and coaches, spilled out to the field to watch Harvey's session. Throwing all of his pitches, Harvey faced a tandem of right-handed infielder Matt Reynolds and left-handed first-base coach Tom Goodwin, who took turns swinging away. Reynolds smacked one pitch on a few hops to the left-field wall.
All the while, Mets officials scrambled to keep the simulated game cloaked in as much secrecy as possible, banning media members from the dugout at a time when they are generally allowed to roam freely. Pitching coach Dan Warthen, who supervised Harvey's entire session, reentered the clubhouse through a back route. Asked multiple times for an interview, Harvey's responses were "no" and "no chance."
But manager Terry Collins said afterward that Harvey's performance was sharp enough for the Mets to slot him officially into his next rotation turn Tuesday in Washington. The team had briefly flirted with the idea of using Harvey on short rest Monday, because he threw only 61 pitches in his last outing.
"He looked very good," Collins said. "Even without the adrenaline, just working on some stuff, his velocity was better. The arm angle, which Dan has been trying to get, was better. The movement was better. He's confident. He feels good about what happened [Saturday]. So we'll give him [Sunday] and Monday off and run him out there."
When that happens, Harvey will lug a 5.77 ERA onto the mound, fourth worst among qualified National League pitchers. In his last outing, Harvey gave up a career-high nine runs (six earned) in a career-low 2 2/3 innings, but the Mets feel he is ready to move past that.
"You've got to be thick-skinned," Collins said. "We saw it last year when Matt went through the [innings-limit episode] and he took some abuse because of it. And at the end of the year he got a standing ovation, they were chanting his name. It will happen again. This summer, it will happen again."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.