Reds expect Harvey to pitch against Dodgers this weekend

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets throws a second-inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on April 19, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets throws a second-inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on April 19, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said prior to Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets that he expects Matt Harvey to pitch at some point during the four-game series in Los Angeles this weekend.

But the exact plan for Harvey, whom the Reds obtained in a trade with the Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco prior to Tuesday’s game, will not be set until after the team arrives in California later Wednesday evening and has a chance to sit down with the 29-year-old right-hander.

“He’s ready to do whatever we need him to do, and we’ll determine that in the next day or two,” Riggleman said after speaking with Harvey by phone Tuesday night. “I would think that he would in some capacity pitch against the Dodgers. But whether that’s relieving, starting, or whatever, I don’t know yet.”

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Riggleman characterized Harvey’s demeanor on the phone call as “very excited.”

“He’s anxious to help us and re-establish his career,” Riggleman said. “I think it’s a good fit.”

An All-Star in his first full season in the majors in 2013 and the National League Comeback Player of the Year two years later following Tommy John Surgery, Harvey led the Mets to the 2015 World Series before falling out of favor due to numerous transgressions, including skipping a game last May after a late night out.

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The Mets suspended him three days without pay, and the issues continued this season when Harvey was ineffective in his first four starts and demoted to the bullpen. After four rocky relief outings led the Mets to designate him for assignment Saturday, Harvey rejected the move to the minors, starting a seven-day period in which the Mets could trade him or outright release him.

Riggleman said as far as he’s concerned all of Harvey’s on- and off-field issues are in the past and this is a fresh start.

“So much can get blown out of proportion,” Riggleman said. “We’ve talked to a lot of people who basically say ‘Matt Harvey is a good guy. Some stuff got exaggerated and so forth.’ That’s in the past. It’s just, as you say, a clean slate.

“It’s a good thing for him to get away from his original setting there.”

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The Reds are paying the Mets $5,788,978 as part of the trade to offset the difference in salaries. Mesoraco is making $13 million in the final season of a four-year, $28 million contract, while Harvey is on a one-year deal worth $5,625,000.

Harvey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in eight appearances this season and 34-37 with a 3.66 ERA in his career.

He had a 6.70 ERA in 92.2 innings in 2017 and a 4.86 ERA in 92.2 innings in 2016.

“Suffice to say that (our coaches) were optimistic that there were things that we could tweak,” Reds General Manager Dick Williams told reporters. “Certainly it’s not like the stuff has disappeared. There is stuff there. The velocity’s been good, and we really like the changeup. It may be more of a pitch mix and approach than a big mechanical change. I think is what we’re looking at.”

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Mesoraco, whose career has been plagued by injuries since his 2014 All-Star season, was hitting .220 with one home run and three RBIs this year in a backup role to Reds starting catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Mesoraco is a career .233 hitter with 48 home runs and 162 RBIs. He struck out as a pinch-hitter for the Mets in the ninth inning Tuesday and was in the starting lineup Wednesday.

“Just kind of surreal,” Mesoraco told reporters after Tuesday night’s game, a 7-2 Reds win. “A whirlwind. A lot happened in 15 minutes.”

To fill Mesoraco’s spot on the roster, the Reds recalled catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A Louisville. Cruz started Wednesday afternoon’s game.

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