JUPITER, Fla. -- New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is ready to throw his first regular-season pitch in 593 days.
Harvey completed a dazzling spring training Thursday as he returns from Tommy John surgery by tossing four scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. He produced a 1.19 ERA and walked only one batter in 22 2/3 Grapefruit League innings.
Harvey, who last appeared in a major league game on Aug. 24, 2013, is scheduled to pitch the third game of the regular season. He lines up to face Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals next Thursday in D.C.
"I'm ready to go," Harvey said. "All the work's been put in, and it's time to just let all that loose."
The Mets will keep some reins on Harvey, but will not be overly restrictive with the ace. Harvey ideally would make roughly 30 starts and log 190 innings, and would be available for the postseason if the Mets qualify.
Manager Terry Collins said Harvey's pitch counts in April likely will be conservative.
"He'll be around the 90-pitch mark. He probably won't go over that," Collins said about next week's start. "We'll keep an eye on him, see how it goes. I hate to give you a number, because if he throws 91, then I'm a piece of [expletive]."
Harvey has heard about pitchers struggling with control in their first season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery. So he has been particularly gratified by his spring training control. Harvey again did not walk a batter Thursday. He threw 41 of 56 pitches for strikes. That strike percentage has been consistent for him throughout spring training.
Harvey said he also has been pleased with his ability to work out of the stretch and escape jams. After a leadoff double in the first inning Thursday, Harvey stranded Matt Carpenter at second base.
"You hear stories of guys who have trouble with command coming back," Harvey said. "That was something that I really worked on. Obviously you never know until you start facing hitters and get into a game."
Mets officials suggest that the extra rehab time likely aided Harvey's success. He underwent the procedure on Oct. 22, 2013.
Harvey wanted to return in September, but the Mets forbade it. So he will have a nearly 18-month period between his surgery and his regular-season return. Fourteen months generally is considered a conservative rehab length.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Harvey's dazzling spring training will not cause the Mets to throw out the in-season parameters they have set, which include slightly more restrictive pitch counts in April. Harvey's highest spring training pitch count was 80.
"I don't think he's caused us to change any program we have for him going into the season," Alderson said. "We've all obviously been more than encouraged by the way he's pitched. But at this point, we will continue to manage things from outing to outing and make adjustments where we deem appropriate."
Harvey was dominant in 2013 before being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that August. He went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 games and started the All-Star Game at Citi Field.
"Everything feels great, as it has all spring training," Harvey said Thursday, as the Mets prepared to break camp. "I don't think there's much more to accomplish. ... Looking back, I'm obviously pretty pleased with how things went. Everything felt good from day one. I'm happy with how it ended and obviously ready for the season and excited to get going."