The Cincinnati Reds aren’t wasting any time showing off their new acquisition.
Matt Harvey will start for Cincinnati on Friday night in the second game of their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman said Harvey could pitch a couple innings or the right-hander could go four, but he will be limited because of his lack of recent game competition.
“He’s healthy and ready to go, so we’ll just put him out there,” Riggleman said.
Harvey was in Newport Beach working out at a facility owned by his agent Scott Boras and made the drive up to Dodger Stadium to join his new team on Thursday.
He was acquired from the New York Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash on Tuesday. Harvey was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in eight games, including four starts, for the Mets this season before they cut him.
“I’m excited to help this team any way I can and I’m excited to get the ball,” Harvey said in the visitors’ dugout after working out on the field.
General manager Dick Williams had said the Reds checked into Harvey’s off-field conduct, which included being suspended for three days without pay last year for skipping a game following a late night on the town.
“I’m not going to discuss any of that stuff,” Harvey said. “I think a lot of things get blown out of proportion.”
Harvey leaves the bright lights of New York for the last-place, small-market Reds, who came into Thursday’s series opener with a 10-27 record.
Asked if he would benefit from being away from the intense scrutiny, he replied, “I’ve had a lot of people say that that was the best thing, but I think just pitching is what’s important. I’ve had a lot of success in New York and I’ve had a lot of not so much success. Regardless of where you are, it’s still pitching and performing.”
Riggleman met the newcomer in his office for a conversation that included Harvey asking about team rules.
“Very respectful, professional,” Riggleman said of his impression. “He’s been in the game for a while now. He’s seen and done it all. He knows how to conduct himself.”
Harvey is staking his big league future on a fresh start after struggling with injuries and failing to regain the All-Star form he had in 2013. Last year, he was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA and was sidelined from mid-June until September because of an injury to the scapula in his right shoulder.
“I feel great. I told the Mets that each time I was going out. Obviously, the numbers didn’t show that,” he said. “I was feeling like I was getting much closer and closer to where I wanted to be on the mound. I might have over-pressured myself and wasn’t able to enjoy the game and let it kind of fall into place and work on just pitching and getting people out.”
Harvey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2015 and helped the Mets reach their first World Series in 15 years. But he tailed off the last few years and the Mets bailed on him after he was hit hard in eight appearances this season.
“Pretty much felt like I let the team down,” he said. “There’s a lot of good memories and there’s a lot of bad memories. After today, I’d like to not talk about my past experiences with the Mets.”
The 29-year-old Harvey was designated for assignment on Saturday, giving the Mets seven days to trade or release him when he refused a demotion to the minors.
“We felt it was best to start in the big leagues and get people out up here than go down and work on stuff in whatever league it is,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to get people out up here and the only way to do that is to stay here and get on to a five-day rotation.”
The pitcher known as “The Dark Knight” said he endured “a lot of rough times” in the last couple years with his injuries and lack of success.
“It’s created a lot of mental toughness,” he said. “At times, there were some pretty negative thoughts going through my head about where my career was, but fighting through that and throwing the ball the way I have been in bullpens and in-between outings, it’s in there and it just needs to come out. I need to relax and let it happen.”
Harvey was 34-37 with a 3.66 ERA in 104 starts and five relief appearances from 2012-18 for the Mets.
Clearly, the Reds aren’t looking at Harvey as any sort of savior to bail out the team or their rotation.
He’s making $5,625,000 on a one-year contract.
“He’s like everybody else on the team and has to do his job,” first baseman Joey Votto said. “He has to try to get better every day. I wish him well.”
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