PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Pitchers' fielding practice, also known as PFPs, may become drudgery by the end of spring training, but for Matt Harvey, it was an exciting step Monday in his return from Tommy John surgery performed more than 15 months ago.
"This is the stuff that I enjoy that I haven't been able to do in almost two years," Harvey told a group of reporters after a nearly two-hour workout, his first in Florida this year.
Harvey said after a "normal offseason," he is feeling "extremely healthy, and with that, there's a lot of confidence."
He hasn't made any changes in his mechanics, and no one on the Mets' staff has suggested that he should.
"I've thrown the same way my whole life," he said. "I'm going to attack hitters the way I always do."
Harvey said he was surprised at the way the ball has come out of his hand during bullpen sessions in New York this offseason and in recent workouts in Newport Beach, California.
"I'm pretty on point with my accuracy,'' he said, "and talking with guys [who have recovered from Tommy John surgery], that's usually the last thing to come back."
Harvey said that while he rehabilitated his arm after ligament replacement surgery, he gained strength throughout his body.
"I can tell my shoulder is definitely in better shape than it ever has been," he said. "My arm feels great. Now it's about getting used to facing hitters again and being healthy."
Phil Regan, a former major-leaguer who is the pitching coach for the Mets' advanced Class A team in Port St. Lucie, said he is looking forward to seeing Harvey throw a bullpen session Tuesday.
Harvey, who was 7-2 in 19 starts for the Mets in 2013 before starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field for the National League, made only seven more starts that season, with the Mets losing five of those. He finished the injury-shortened season 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 178 1/3 innings. Now he is eager to return to game action for the first time since August 2013.
"The toughest part was there at the end [of the 2014 season] when things started feeling good and I was throwing all my pitches but not getting into a game," Harvey said.
He's not sure when he will, and said his focus is being ready for Opening Day on April 6 against the Nationals in Washington.
"We'll see what happens throughout spring training," Harvey said. "The biggest part is staying healthy and moving forward."
Harvey, who will turn 26 about a week before the Mets' season opener, loosened up with calisthenics in a group of about 15 players, threw long-toss for about 15 minutes and then did his PFP in a group of pitchers under the supervision of Mets senior adviser Guy Conti.
Taking fielding practice with Harvey, 10 days before they are required to report to the Mets' spring training complex, were fellow major-leaguers Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin and minor-leaguers Steven Matz (Ward Melville High School), Andrew Church, Beck Wheeler and Kyle Regnault, a 26-year-old lefthander the Mets signed in October out of the Canadian-American Association.
Harvey said he and his teammates are excited about the Mets' upcoming season after "adding [Michael] Cuddyer and a couple of bats we did, with David [Wright] back healthy and everybody is a year older."
Saying "everybody is a year older" might not be a positive statement for most teams, but it is when Harvey says it about the Mets.
"I'm just as excited as everybody else is," he said, "and can't wait to get going."