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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.”

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.