Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal caught up with Matt Harvey and updates us on his rehab. Short version: everything is feeling great. Almost too great:
Harvey says he has progressed from rehabbing his arm to regular upper-body workouts, and he hopes to begin playing catch by the end of February. He believes he is going as fast, and doing as well, as the rehab schedule allows. He says he has felt no pain, that there have been no setbacks, and that his rehab coordinator at the Hospital for Special Surgery has had to slow the recovery timetable for its own sake.
Harvey wants to begin throwing in February and, if he had his way, would pitch in 2014. He knows he doesn’t have his way, however, and that the Mets are not going to risk several years of their future with Harvey at the top of their rotation in the interests of having him pitch some, in all likelihood, meaningless games this September.
Also worth nothing that in recent years a lot of pitchers, especially younger ones, have been quoted as feeling fantastic in the months after their Tommy John surgery, and are almost surprised that they don’t have pain and all of that. But what most of them learn is that pain is not the issue at all. It’s all about touch and feel over pitches. That’s the reason the timetable for Tommy John is what it is, not just the actual physical recovery.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.