New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) works in the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees, Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey works in the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees, Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida — Asked whether economics played a role in slating Jacob deGrom to start the New York Mets' home opener next month, general manager Sandy Alderson gave a complex answer.
New York is close to a sellout for the April 13 game against Philadelphia. Matt Harvey, returning from an elbow injury that has sidelined him since August 2013, slots in to start the following night, when plenty of tickets are available.
"Look, we take a lot of things into account," Alderson said Tuesday. "I think the first and foremost is: Does any pitcher deserve to pitch in a game of that sort, and I think that was the primary focus. You're assuming more people are interested in seeing Harvey pitch than Jacob. That's probably true, but not something I would acknowledge."
New York said Monday that Bartolo Colon will start the season opener at Washington on April 6, at 41 the oldest pitcher to start for the Mets on opening day. DeGrom, the NL Rookie of the Year, follows in the rotation; Harvey is slated to pitch April 9 against the Nationals and April 14 versus the Phillies.
Alderson said Harvey understood that because he didn't pitch in 2014, he "probably should not have been under serious consideration" for the season or home openers. Harvey said he understood the Mets rationale.
"For not throwing at all last year, I'm happy to be playing again," Harvey said Tuesday. "Whatever is decided on, when I get to throw, I'm going to be excited and all for it. Obviously Bartolo throwing 200 innings, getting 15 wins, is well-deserving of opening day. All that Jacob did last year, he deserves opening day at home. I'm happy to be throwing in the first series, and I'm extremely happy about throwing at home."
Harvey pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Sunday and has thrown 9 2-3 consecutive shutout innings. He has a 1.26 ERA with 12 strikeouts and one walk in four starts.
"Everything feels good," Harvey said. "The big thing now is getting from 60 pitches to closer to 100. Obviously, the weather's going to be warmer down here than it is up there, so getting a little extra prepared is definitely something we want to do in the next two starts."
Colon was 15-13 with a 4.09 ERA last year and at 41 will become the oldest opening-day starting pitcher in the major leagues since April 2006, when 43-year-old Jamie Moyer was on the mound for Seattle and 42-year-old Randy Johnson for the New York Yankees.
Colon will be making his seventh opening-day start after taking the mound for Cleveland (2000-02) and the Angels (2004-06). He will become the Mets' oldest opening-day starting pitcher at 41 years, 317 days, topping Tom Glavine at 41 years, 7 days in 2007.
Mets manager Terry Collins downplayed the importance of Colon getting the opening-day start. He will be the Mets' fifth different pitcher in five years to start the opener.
"It's just one start," Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday. "I know it's a big deal to a lot of people. To me it's not. It's one of 32 starts. You go back and look at what Bart did all season long, he earned it.
"Harv's going to pitch a lot of them. Over his career, he's going to pitch a lot of opening days, but Matt Harvey doesn't really care. The whole philosophy is we have to go beat the Washington Nationals."
Harvey was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 2013 and was the NL starter in the All-Star game that year.