Matt Harvey

MLB Notes: Mets starters Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey begin throwing programs

MLB Notes: Mets starters Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey begin throwing programs

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey began their throwing programs Monday, playing catch together at Citi Field in their first steps toward returning to the mound for the New York Mets.

Whether either one gets back in time to make a difference this season, well, that remains to be seen.

On the mend from significant injuries, both right-handers said they felt good -- but neither would put a timetable on his recovery. Harvey hasn't been sidelined as long as Syndergaard, but both are at least several weeks away from coming off the disabled list.

"We'll try and get back as quick as we can," Harvey said.

Syndergaard, an All-Star last season, has been out since May 1 with a torn lat muscle on his right side. Harvey, the oft-injured former ace who has faded the past two years, went down in mid-June with a stress injury to his right shoulder.

Pirates: Marte humbled in return from suspension
PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte insists he still isn't sure exactly how the illegal steroid that cost the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder an 80-game suspension got into his system. All set to return Tuesday night, he stressed he did not inject himself with Nandrolone but understands he was "careless" while spending last offseason in his native Dominican Republic.

"That's something I regret, not being careful enough," Marte said through translator Mike Gonzalez on Monday in the final hours before his forced half-season sabbatical ends.

The 28-year-old, a two-time Gold Glove winner and one-time All-Star, apologized to his teammates in the minutes after his suspension was handed down on April 18. He offered a broader one to the organization and the fan base, well aware his misstep could follow him for the remainder of his career.

'"'I can't lie to you, there is a bit of a concern," Marte said. "But I respect anything that's thrown my way, I understand it. I would wish that things would go smoothly but I can't say that they will. Whether it goes positively or negatively, I will be motivated" (see full story).

Braves: Rodriguez, Santana activated from DL
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have activated utility players Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana from the disabled list.

Right-hander Jason Hursh and infielder Jace Peterson were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Rodriguez will start at third base in his Braves debut against the Cubs on Monday night. Freddie Freeman is starting at first base.

Rodriguez needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder after a vehicle he was driving was rammed by a stolen police car in Miami on Jan. 28. His wife, Giselle, and two of their children were hospitalized and have recovered from their injuries.

There were concerns Rodriguez would miss the season after the surgery. He signed a two-year, $11.5 million deal with Atlanta in November.

Rodriguez set career highs by hitting .270 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs for Pittsburgh in 2016.

Santana missed the minimum 10 days with a bacterial infection.

Mets suspend star pitcher Matt Harvey for 3 days

Mets suspend star pitcher Matt Harvey for 3 days

NEW YORK -- Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey was suspended three days by the team on Sunday for an undisclosed violation of team rules, the latest hiccup for a club beset by problems on and off the field this season.

General manager Sandy Alderson announced the suspension in a brief statement before the game, shortly before Harvey was scheduled to start against Miami. Alderson said the right-hander had been sent home, but declined further comment.

Left-hander Adam Wilk was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to face the Marlins. In his first big league game since 2015, the lefty was hit hard, giving up six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The Mets said Harvey's suspension was effective Saturday. Manager Terry Collins held a closed-door meeting with his team before the game to talk about the penalty.

"We are going to keep it in house, the way it's supposed to be," Collins said. "We hope to put it behind us and move forward."

The suspension removed Harvey from the 25-man roster. The Mets transferred Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day disabled list to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Wilk. The Mets also claimed lefty Tommy Milone off waivers from Milwaukee -- he was 1-0 with one save and a 6.43 ERA.

Collins indicated that he was aware that a suspension could be on the horizon for Harvey.

"There were some moves made last night because we felt this might occur," he said.

In his first season after having a rib removed to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, the 28-year-old Harvey has struggled to a 2-2 record with a 5.14 ERA over 35 innings. Harvey is coming off two of the worst starts of his career, allowing 12 runs over 9 2/3 innings with eight walks in a pair of losses to Atlanta.

He missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Harvey's best season was in 2015, when he went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA. But that year, in his first postseason, he missed a mandatory workout the day before the NL East champion Mets traveled to Los Angeles for their playoff opener against the Dodgers. He apologized for his late arrival, for which he was fined. Harvey offered no public explanation for his tardiness, saying he simply "screwed up."

Coming off two straight playoff appearances, the Mets began this season with lofty expectations. Instead, hampered by injuries, they started out 14-15 against all NL East opponents.

New York is missing ace right-hander Syndergaard (latissimus dorsi), outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring), first baseman Lucas Duda (elbow), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (wrist), left-hander Steven Matz (elbow), right-hander Seth Lugo (elbow), third baseman David Wright (recovery from neck surgery) and outfielder Brandon Nimmo (hamstring). Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left Saturday's game with an injured left thumb.

The team already has dealt with several public relations issues this season. Syndergaard initially missed a start with what the Mets said was biceps and shoulder discomfort and then made his next start against Washington after refusing to undergo an MRI. He was removed with the lat injury after only 11 batters. Syndergaard issued an apology Saturday to Mets public relations director Jay Horwitz and to members of the media for an outburst on April 27.

Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki was at the center of a controversy Friday when a sex toy could be viewed in his locker in a photo the Mets tweeted of T.J. Rivera wearing the star-of-the-game crown after New York's come-from-behind victory. Plawecki described it as a prank.

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Will retaliatory sparks fly tonight?

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Will retaliatory sparks fly tonight?

Phillies (3-4) vs. Mets (4-3)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies lost a game they should have won Monday, failing to break things open in the first inning with the bases loaded and one out against Jacob deGrom, playing shaky defense to let the Mets tie the game, and then falling behind during a wild eighth inning.

The story coming out of the game was Edubray Ramos' 96-mph fastball behind the head of Asdrubal Cabrera, who flipped the bat against Ramos after a dramatic walk-off home run last September.

Pete Mackanin said he'd talk to Ramos today but it was clear the manager wasn't happy with the pitch, calling it "inappropriate," especially at that time and place.

Will some more sparks fly tonight? Let's take a look at Game 2:

1. Ramos will learn
Look, it was a bad decision by Ramos to do what he did to Cabrera last night in the eighth inning of a tie game. He put his own motives ahead of the team's and that's not acceptable unless one team is comfortably ahead or behind. 

But let's remember that this is a 24-year-old kid with all of three months of major-league service time. It was an immature action but he'll learn from it, and hopefully he won't ever put his own feelings ahead of the team's again.

That three-run bomb Ramos gave up to Cabrera last September was the final pitch he threw in 2016. So he had all offseason to stew about it. Really, though, Cabrera didn't do anything egregious. He was excited that he turned an 11th-inning, 8-6 deficit into a Mets win that inched them closer to the playoffs. He reacted. 

Ramos really wasn't within his right to take exception to Cabrera there. Especially considering all of the things his own teammate Odubel Herrera flips the bat over. Do you see pitchers go after Herrera every day?

2. Harvey on the hill
The Phillies faced Max Scherzer last Friday, Stephen Strasburg on Sunday, deGrom last night and now they draw Matt Harvey. 

Just a nice, easy start to the season, huh?

Harvey pitched well in his first start last week against the Braves, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win. His fastball averaged 94.4 mph and reached as high as 95.9. It was a good sign for the Mets in Harvey's first regular-season start since undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome last summer.

Last season was a frustrating one for Harvey, who to that point had known nothing but success at the big-league level. He had a 2.53 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 65 starts from 2012 to 2015. Then last season he just couldn't get right, going 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts and striking out just 7.4 batters per nine.

This is an important year for Harvey as he looks to reestablish himself as an ace. At this point, he's fallen behind Noah Syndergaard and deGrom in the pecking order, but remember it was just two years ago that we were looking at Harvey as one of the very best pitchers in baseball.

In nine career starts against the Phillies, Harvey is 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA. The Phils have hit him around the last two years, though, scoring 13 runs on 26 hits and five homers in his 24 1/3 innings. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard gone, the only homer off Harvey by an active Phillie belongs to Herrera.

Current Phils have hit .310 off him, with Cesar Hernandez going 3 for 6 with a walk and Freddy Galvis going 3 for 9 with a walk.

3. Buchholz's second start
The Phillies acquired Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox in a trade similar to the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson from the D-backs the previous offseason. Bring in a veteran starter, hope he pitches well and enables you to flip him in a trade.

Hellickson's been pretty consistent for the Phillies since 2016 began, often keeping them in the game and minimizing damage. "Consistent" isn't the word you'll often see applied to Buchholz.

In his Phillies debut last week in Cincinnati, Buchholz allowed four runs and put 10 men on base over five innings. That's how a lot of Buchholz's starts tend to go: slow pace, lots of baserunners, early exit. It won't go that way every time, but Phillies fans should get used to it for the time being.

The slow pace of Buchholz combined with the long innings can make him frustrating to watch at times. Over the last three seasons, he's had the fourth-slowest pace in the majors between pitches. Here's that list:

1. David Price: 26.1 seconds
2. Yu Darvish: 25.3
3. Jeremy Hellickson: 25.3
4. Clay Buchholz: 25.2

It's much more noticeable from Hellickson and Buchholz because they aren't aces who rack up strikeouts like Price and Darvish. There's so much else to talk about when it comes to Price and Darvish.

Current Mets have hit just .237 off Buchholz but have 15 walks for a .363 on-base percentage. 

Jose Reyes has seen him the most from his days in Toronto, going 8 for 32 (.250) with four walks. Curtis Granderson has six walks against Buchholz but is just 2 for 17 with nine strikeouts. Cabrera has had by far the most success, going 6 for 14 with a double, two homers and three walks.

4. Adjusting the plan vs. Bruce
Jay Bruce destroyed a baseball Sunday night off Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez for a 428-foot home run. Entering this series, the Phillies knew about Bruce's ability to change the complexion of a game with one swing, but they also knew about the many holes in his swing.

Well, Bruce is clearly locked in. He homered twice last night -- both were no-doubters -- accounting for the first run off Jerad Eickhoff and the game-winning runs off Joely Rodriguez.

Some questioned the Phillies' decision to pitch to Bruce in that eighth inning with struggling lefty Granderson on deck, but consider this: Bruce was 0 for 9 off lefties to that point and had hit .204 against them dating back to 2014. Rodriguez is in a major-league bullpen to get lefties out so he went after him.

Buchholz and the Phillies' relievers tonight just need to handle Bruce with an extra level of caution because of how few other Mets are hitting. New York is hitting .192 through seven games. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker are both 4 for 26 (.154) and Granderson is 5 for 24 (.208). You can take your chances with those who are slumping.

5. This and that
• Right-hander Zach Eflin, who late last season had surgery on both knees, was activated from the DL Tuesday and optioned by the Phillies to Triple A Lehigh Valley. He'll start tonight for the IronPigs in Scranton. 

Eflin showed some flashes over his 11 starts with the Phillies last summer but ended with a 5.54 ERA. 

He'd dealt with pain in both knees for more than a decade so hopefully, the newfound comfort allows him to continue developing as a sinkerballer. Eflin just turned 23 on April 8.

• Wouldn't shock me if the Mets throw at Herrera tonight. It would be a bit of retaliation for Ramos' pitch to Cabrera, and it was just last night that Herrera flipped the bat on a flyout he thought would be an extra-base hit.

• Maikel Franco seems to be locking in. After walking twice and lining out sharply against Strasburg on Sunday, Franco singled in his first two at-bats off deGrom Monday and later walked to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning.

• If the Phillies see acting Mets closer Addison Reed again tonight, they could do some damage. Reed threw straight 92 mph fastball after straight 92 mph fastball last night and several of those pitches were center-cut. By far his best pitch of the inning was the two-strike paint job he had on Howie Kendrick, low and on the outside corner to end the game.