New York Mets

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Struggling ace Harvey to make next scheduled start for Mets

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NEW YORK (AP) Matt Harvey wants to keep plugging away at his problems on the mound. Whether that ends up helping or hurting the New York Mets early this season remains to be seen.

The struggling Harvey will make his next scheduled start for the Mets next week at Washington, manager Terry Collins said. Following the shortest outing of his career Thursday night in a 9-1 loss to the Nationals, the Mets left open the possibility of skipping Harvey’s upcoming turn in the rotation.

But in a meeting with staff members Friday, Collins said, Harvey insisted he’d prefer to fight through his troubles.

“I was really glad to hear what he had to say,” Collins said. “This game is about confidence, and when it starts to waver and you start to doubt yourself, you’re going to have a tough time. And so last night, when I went in to talk to him after he came out of the game, I was really concerned about what he was going to say today. And he walked in like he normally does, unhappy the way he’s pitching, but said, `I want to pitch.’ And I was glad to hear that.”

After some discussion, the team agreed keeping Harvey on turn was the best course of action – though Collins acknowledged it was not a unanimous decision. Others in the room thought Harvey should be skipped, the manager said.

“We got as in-depth as you possibly can get. We dissected every angle there was,” Collins explained. “And in the end, knowing this guy like we do, he wants to pitch. He wants to fight through it. He isn’t going to run and hide. He wants to get out there. So we’re going to do that.”

Harvey is slated to start Tuesday night, but Collins said that could change. The right-hander might be pushed back a day or even moved up to pitch on three days’ rest Monday because he threw only 61 pitches Thursday.

Either way, Collins said, Harvey will definitely get the ball at some point during the three-game series in Washington.

“In this particular case, we really think he’s got to get back on the horse as fast as he possibly can,” Collins said. “We’ve got to get him back out there. While he’s angry about some things, get him back out there.”

In the meantime, Harvey will throw on the side this weekend and work with pitching coach Dan Warthen in search of an answer to his puzzling difficulties. Harvey’s velocity is down, his pitches lack a sharp finish to them, and he’s said he hasn’t felt comfortable on the mound and has no idea what’s wrong.

“He wants to battle through,” Collins said. “He’s going to do what he has to do to get better.”

Harvey, an All-Star in 2013 and the NL comeback player of the year last season, is 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA in nine starts. He has given up 65 hits and walked 14 with 43 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.

He was hammered for eight hits and a career-worst nine runs, six earned, in 2 2/3 innings and loudly booed by Mets fans Thursday night.

The 27-year-old Harvey threw a career-high 216 innings last year, including the postseason, as the Mets won the NL pennant. He was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in his first regular season after missing 2014 following Tommy John surgery.

Collins said Harvey’s recent bullpen sessions have been “outstanding.”

“We know he’s healthy. We’ve just got to get through this confidence issue to trust his stuff,” Collins said.

The manager recalled last season, when he said Harvey took some “abuse” after initially saying he was unsure whether he would push past 180 innings following elbow surgery and pitch in the postseason. But by the World Series, fans at Citi Field were giving Harvey standing ovations and chanting his name.

“It’ll happen again. This summer, it will happen again. I told him that today,” Collins said. “He will hear that again this summer. But you’ve got to be able to build on what you’re doing right now to get better to hear it, and I think he can handle it.”

Mets pitcher Colon hits 1st homer just shy of 43rd birthday

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SAN DIEGO (AP) New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run Saturday night, a shot that came less than three weeks before his 43rd birthday.

Colon connected for a two-run homer in the second inning off San Diego’s James Shields. The impressive drive hit the lower balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner at Petco Park to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

Colon watched the ball all the way, and didn’t toss his bat until he was well over halfway to first base. The portly pitcher’s trot around the bases took about 30 seconds.

When he returned to the dugout, his teammates were hiding in the tunnel before coming out to mob him.

Colon hasn’t had to worry about his hitting. He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award while with the Los Angeles Angels, and is a three-time All-Star.

Before his home run, he was a career .089 hitter in 225 at-bats, striking out 119 times. He usually swings hard and his helmet often falls off in the process, frequently drawing cheers and laughs from fans at home and on the road.

At 42 years, 349 days, Colon is the second-oldest Mets player to homer. Julio Franco homered on May 4, 2007, when he was 48 years, 254 days old.

Colon’s major league debut was April 4, 1997, in a no-decision for Cleveland against the Angels. Franco was his teammate. The opposing manager was Terry Collins, now in his sixth season as the Mets manager.

Play of the Day: Bartolo Colon makes a behind-the-back flip to preserve scoreless streak

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Mets starter Bartolo Colon ended the sixth inning of Saturday night’s start against the Marlins with a nifty behind-the-back flip to first base, preserving his consecutive scoreless innings streak. He went on to toss a shutout on 100 pitches.

Colon last allowed a run in the fourth inning of his August 21 start at Coors Field against the Rockies in which he lasted only 3 2/3 innings. Since then, he held the Phillies scoreless over seven innings in Philadelphia, pitched a scoreless inning of relief, shut out the Phillies again with eight innings at home, and blanked the Marlins over nine frames on Saturday. For those counting at home, that runs his consecutive scoreless innings streak up to 25 innings.

Colon, on the season, has a 4.18 ERA with a 127/21 K/BB ratio over 169 innings.