MIAMI -- Matt Harvey is not the only Mets pitcher spending his days in Florida rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Accompanying Harvey at least part of the time is Jeremy Hefner, who drove down from Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday to visit his teammates in Miami.
Unlike Harvey, Hefner is stationed in Port St. Lucie full-time as he attempts to work his way back from surgery. When Harvey is not back in New York, he and Hefner benefit from each other's company.
"He's firing balls to me and I'm firing balls back at him," Hefner said. "It's a good time. Ever since I've been in the organization, me and Matt have pretty much been in the same spot. He helps me with my mechanics and I help him with his."
Though Hefner underwent surgery roughly two months before Harvey, the two are at similar stages in their rehab programs. Both hope to increase their throwing distances to 120 feet this week, setting them up to climb atop mounds for the first time in early June.
Both also hope to return to the big leagues later this season -- a target that seems more realistic for Hefner, given his extra two months of rehab time.
"That's my goal," said Hefner, who posted a 4.34 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts) last season. "That's my hope. Hopefully, I can come and contribute if there's a need. I think I'd be wasting my time if I wasn't trying to get back to the big leagues, so I'm hopeful I can do that.
"I've been here. I've had good spurts and I've had bad spurts. I know what it takes to have those good spurts, and hopefully, I can get my arm to cooperate with my mind, and get back to that point."
Collins worried about Dice-K's warmup routine
MIAMI -- Poor production is not the only thing plaguing the Mets' bullpen these days. Right-hander Carlos Torres is also dealing with a sore upper lat muscle, which made him unavailable for Monday night's game but should not keep him out of Tuesday's action, according to manager Terry Collins.
More concerning to Collins is the matter of Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose habit of throwing intensely every day in the bullpen has the manager worried.
New to the bullpen, Matsuzaka has taken to warming up early and often, to the point that Collins feels he is tiring himself before actually entering games. But the manager does not want to alter the routine of a pitcher who knows his right arm better than anyone else.
"Do I condone it? Do I necessarily like it? That's the way it is," Collins said. "The one thing I do know is when you try to change those kinds of guys who do that stuff all the time, if they have a bad night, that's going to be the reason."
Matsuzaka certainly had a bad night Monday, walking the first two batters he faced en route to coughing up a three-run lead in the eighth. Though Collins wants to help Matsuzaka forget that experience as quickly as possible, he planned to avoid him Tuesday given his extreme recent workload.
Fellow right-hander Gonzalez Germen was available a day after Casey McGehee hit a walk-off single off his leg, but availability and reliability are two different things. The Mets are still searching for a back-end bullpen combination that works, entering Tuesday's play with 10 earned runs in their last 12 1/3 innings.
Boasting one of the league's better bullpens as recently as mid-April, the Mets entered Tuesday's play with a 4.27 relief ERA, ranking 24th in the Majors in that category.
• Former big league reliever Royce Ring, who pitched with the Mets from 2005-06, has been named pitching coach for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets. Ring posted a 5.29 ERA over a five-year career with the Mets, Padres, Braves and Yankees.
• Willie Mays, who hit 14 of his 660 career home runs with the Mets from 1972-73, celebrated his 83rd birthday on Tuesday.
• The Mets have launched an online ticketing service for the exclusive use of U.S. Military members and first responders. The team is partnering with GovX.com to offer specially priced tickets to those individuals at up to 50-percent discounts. GovX.com will also sponsor Citi Field's Military Mondays initiative and donate hundreds of tickets to local service members.