PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Matt Harvey stood in line behind the pitcher's mound and waited his turn, just like everybody else. When his time came, he sprinted to cover first base, charged to pick up bunts and stepped off to make pickoff throws.
All morning it went this way. He roved from field to field, with each one presenting a different chore. There was no escaping the monotony. Field. Throw. Repeat.
There is a reason that pitchers' fielding practice endures as spring training's quintessential form of communal drudgery. Yet there was Harvey on Saturday, reveling in the repetition.
"I'm excited to here and to be able to do everything like everybody else,'' he said. "And not kind of be on my own program.''
Since August 2013, a torn elbow ligament had made Harvey an outsider. Even though he was in camp last season, he was only a few months into his rehab. His days were spent off to the side, following a schedule shared by no one else.
Not anymore. The handcuffs are off. Although he will have an innings cap, it will be flexible.
"It's nice to have that,'' said Harvey, who hasn't been filled in on his exact innings range in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets have been vague about the limits. General manager Sandy Alderson said this past week that Harvey could eclipse 200 innings if the Mets reach the postseason, though the total will cap at roughly 215 innings.
How the Mets intend to manage Harvey's workload also remains unclear. But a few hints have emerged.
They don't intend to go with a six-man rotation. Manager Terry Collins broached the possibility of pulling Harvey early from individual starts, perhaps capping him at five or six innings. Harvey seemed to accept the possibility, though he couldn't promise that he'd like it.
"Obviously, it's [Collins'] call in the long run,'' he said. "At times, you may get a little frustrated. But once the game's over and you're out of the game, obviously you can sit back and realize that it's what's best.''
All of those plans remain in flux. Collins, however, shot down speculation about the Mets saving Harvey's innings by delaying the start of his season. He said his ace will start one of the first five games of the season.
"He will not be skipped early,'' Collins said. "This kid has worked way too hard to get back up on that mound to skip him early.''
That work continues on, with Harvey focused on moving past a tumultuous year in rehab, when voices within the organization groused about his penchant for making headlines.
When asked about any lingering ill will, Harvey scoffed.
"I was noisy? Oh, really? OK,'' Harvey said. "Maybe that was what you guys think. But for me, those things were dealt [with] internally through our organization and through us. I thought we handled them fine.''
Said Harvey: "We're good. There was really nothing. I think some of that stuff was all made up. But internally we were fine. Everything was good.''
For one morning, anyway, there was little dispute about that. At camp, Harvey almost blended in with the rest of the Mets, all the way down to the flaws during fielding practice.
A comebacker glanced off the edge of his glove. A throw to third base wound up in the dirt. A throw to second base came to rest in centerfield. Maybe it was rust.
At times Harvey has been criticized for standing out too much. On Saturday he derived satisfaction by being like everybody else, even if it meant going through the drudgery of PFPs.
"It's something that at the time you don't think you're going to miss,'' Harvey said. "But once you get back into it and you've missed an entire spring training of it, you definitely appreciate that stuff a lot more.''