There was a time when there was no bigger sports star in the city of New York than Matt Harvey, and despite his fall from grace, fans are still showing love for their beloved former pitcher.
Harvey arrived in New York for the first time Monday since being being traded by the Mets to the Cincinnati Reds, and surprisingly received a warm ovation from fans and his former teammates.
The Mets did the classy thing and honored him with a video tribute prior to Monday's series opener.
The 2013 All-Star was designated for assignment by the Mets in early May, and then subsequently traded to the Reds in exchange for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash considerations. Harvey was selected seventh overall by the Mets in the 2010 MLB draft, and spent nearly five seasons in New York prior to the nasty split with the club.
"I can understand that there will be some boos," an uneasy Harvey told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo just prior to the series. "I do want everybody to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made. But I did put my heart into this organization, as I will with future teams, and this team that I'm on now. I really enjoyed every minute here."
Harvey, who famously melted down late in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, spent the majority of his time in New York plagued with injuries. But when he was healthy, the righty was widely considered one of the top pitchers in baseball.
"I kind of put myself in a bad position," Harvey said. "Health was the biggest thing. Being as competitive as I am, and as all these guys are, when the injuries took a toll on me, and I wasn't able to do my job the way I wanted to, I made a lot of mistakes. That was something I've definitely looked back on, and I wouldn't say regret. People make mistakes, and I definitely made a lot of them."
Harvey, known as the "Dark Knight" throughout his tenure with New York, was often accused of not being entirely focused on baseball. His rise to stardom quickly turned him into a New York socialite, a role he fully embraced for all the wrong reasons.
His relationship with the club deteriorated as a result of his hard-partying ways, and so did his statistics. Harvey admitted he endured "a lot of tears" after learning the news he had been designated for assignment, but he now has a second chance with the Reds.
Harvey, who is 5-5 with a 4.79 ERA in 15 starts for the Reds, is not scheduled to pitch during the three-game series, so he won't have the added anxiety of throwing against his former team this time around.
The 2015 Comeback Player of the Year will become a free agent at season's end, but a reunion is unlikely with the Mets.
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