LOS ANGELES - The Reds aren't wasting any time showing off their new acquisition. And Matt Harvey is eager to show what he can do.
The former Mets ace will start for Cincinnati on Friday night in the second game of their series against the Dodgers. The Reds optioned struggling left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-3, 7.40 ERA) to Triple-A Louisville to make room on the roster.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman says Harvey could pitch a couple innings or the right-hander could go four, but he will be limited because of his lack of recent game competition.
“He’s healthy and ready to go, so we’ll just put him out there,” Riggleman said.
Harvey was in Newport Beach working out at a facility owned by his agent Scott Boras and made the drive up to Dodger Stadium to join his new team on Thursday.
“I’m excited to help this team any way I can and I’m excited to get the ball,” Harvey said in the visitors’ dugout after working out on the field.
Harvey, who slid to a 9-19 record over the last three seasons, says he's eager to start a new chapter with the last-place Reds, who acquired him from New York for catcher Devin Mesoraco on Tuesday.
"I obviously wasn’t able to perform the way I wanted to and the way I was expecting to. So, you know, fresh start, I guess you could say, is a nice thing. I’m looking forward to my opportunity,” Harvey said.
Harvey says he endured some dark days in recent years as he struggled with injuries and tried to recover the All-Star form he had in 2013. Now he's ready to put his Mets days behind him.
“There’s a lot of good memories. There’s a lot of bad memories. After today I’d like to not talk about my past experiences with the Mets. So, I’d like to move forward with my new organization and do everything I can to help them," Harvey said.
Reds General Manager Dick Williams had said the Reds checked into Harvey’s off-field conduct, which included being suspended for three days without pay last year for skipping a game following a late night on the town.
“I’m not going to discuss any of that stuff,” Harvey said. “I think a lot of things get blown out of proportion.”
Asked if he would benefit from being away from the intense media scrutiny in New York, he replied, “I’ve had a lot of people say that that was the best thing, but I think just pitching is what’s important. I’ve had a lot of success in New York and I’ve had a lot of not so much success. Regardless of where you are, it’s still pitching and performing.”
Riggleman met Harvey in his office for a conversation that included Harvey asking about team rules.
“Very respectful, professional,” Riggleman said of his impression. “He’s been in the game for a while now. He’s seen and done it all. He knows how to conduct himself.”
Harvey is staking his big league future on a fresh start. Last year, he was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA and was sidelined from mid-June until September because of an injury to the scapula in his right shoulder.
“I feel great. I told the Mets that each time I was going out. Obviously, the numbers didn’t show that,” he said.
Harvey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA this season, including four starts and four relief appearances.
“I was feeling like I was getting much closer and closer to where I wanted to be on the mound," Harvey said. "I might have over-pressured myself and wasn’t able to enjoy the game and let it kind of fall into place and work on just pitching and getting people out.”
The 29-year-old Harvey was designated for assignment on Saturday, giving the Mets seven days to trade or release him when he refused a demotion to the minors.
“We felt it was best to start in the big leagues and get people out up here than go down and work on stuff in whatever league it is,” Harvey said. “The ultimate goal is to get people out up here and the only way to do that is to stay here and get on to a five-day rotation.”
Clearly, the Reds aren’t looking at Harvey a savior to bail out the team or their rotation.
“He’s like everybody else on the team and has to do his job,” first baseman Joey Votto said. “He has to try to get better every day. I wish him well.”