CINCINNATI - After spending more than a year living the life of a recovering patient, Mets ace Matt Harvey soon will take a major step back toward normalcy.
Though a precise end date has yet to be determined, Harvey soon will wrap up throwing his extended bullpen sessions, the closest he'll come to game action this season. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey then will be treated like any other pitcher on staff when he begins an offseason regimen of rest, exercise and light throwing.
Harvey remains in line to resume throwing off the mound in early February, which would set him up to face batters in spring training. That will be about 16 months after Tommy John surgery to repair an injury that shortened his breakout 2013 campaign.
"Right now, there has been no setbacks," Warthen said before the Mets blew out the Reds, 14-5, Friday night. "The way he's throwing right now, I think he's a pretty happy man."
Though Harvey expressed his desire to face hitters in a competitive environment -- preferably in a major-league game -- team officials have long dismissed that idea.
Instead, Harvey has settled for a string of bullpen sessions designed to simulate a game, though he won't be facing any hitters.
The first of those sessions took place Thursday at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Warthen said Harvey came through it with no issues after throwing 50 pitches that were staggered over three simulated innings and separated by eight-minute breaks.
Harvey now will follow a schedule similar to a pitcher in a standard five-man rotation, treating the extended bullpen sessions as starts.
"Now he'll be acting like that [session] is a game," Warthen said. "So you go into your full rotation stuff. You take a day off, throw a little bit on the side, take two days off and throw a sim game again."
Harvey is scheduled to throw his next extended bullpen session Tuesday at Citi Field. By then, Warthen expects Mets brass and Harvey to have met about when he will go into a typical offseason mode.
A firm shutdown date has yet to be set, according to team insiders, mostly because that decision will be made in part by Harvey. The Mets have been pleased with his physical progress and also want him to be mentally prepared to end his throwing program, which could occur near the end of the season.
"We'll probably solidify all of this as we sit down and talk," Warthen said. "Harvey will be there on Sunday and I'm sure we will all get together Monday and Tuesday and finalize everything."
According to Warthen, a desire exists for Harvey to progress beyond throwing only fastballs before concluding his rehab, though the righthander will be kept from throwing at 100 percent until spring training.
In early November, Harvey will begin playing catch twice a week, the beginning of a pitcher's normal offseason routine. But first he will be shut down to rest his arm. That's also common practice for any pitcher.
"He'll take a month off from throwing," Warthen said, "which we encourage all of our guys to do just to recover."