Matz Nearly Ready To Go

With all the talk of organizational changes, the fall Instructional League, and even the 2010 Mets draft class, many may have let slip through their minds the status of 2009 top pick Steve Matz. Matz underwent Tommy John surgery in May, but is closing in on his return date. Inside Pitch caught up with Matz for this exclusive Q&A where he talks about his return from injury, his rehab and more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: So it's been roughly half of a year since you underwent Tommy John surgery. How's the arm?

Steven Matz: The arm is doing real good. I feel great. My full range of motion is back. I start throwing November 1st which I'm really looking forward to obviously. It's been a long time being away from the field and playing.

Inside Pitch: Take me back to the surgery and what, if any, were the indicators for you that something was wrong?

Matz: I had the surgery on May 18th, but it was weird how the whole thing started. Most guys feel a pop or something like that when they tear the ligament. Me, I was throwing two innings in extended spring training and my arm was feeling fine. I was doing my routine after the game. I worked out after the game, and then when I got back to the hotel my elbow was really, really tight.

I thought I just strained something, but I didn't say anything. I went to throw a bullpen a few days after and the ball wouldn't go anywhere. My elbow was feeling really tight and bothering me. (Rick Waits) was there at the time and he noticed that I wasn't feeling right. He asked me where it was hurting me and I pointed to the spot to my elbow. He immediately told me to go see the trainer because it wasn't a good spot.

I went a see the doctor and they rested me for a week, but I came back and it still wasn't right so they sent me for an MRI. At first, I didn't think it'd be anything serious but it ended up being torn.

Inside Pitch: You have the surgery in mid-May and you plan to throw on November 1st. You have to at least be pleased with that turnaround time, no?

Matz: Yea, they said that in some cases you can be throwing again in four months but I'm still happy with my timeline. I don't want to rush back in, and the team didn't want me to rush back in before we were all sure I'll be 100 percent. I feel great now so everything is going just as they said.

Inside Pitch: You didn't have much of a chance to pitch since you were drafted and obviously over the last six months you couldn't do any baseball activity. What did you do to stay fresh and in game shape?

Matz: I've been going to this place in Garden City (N.Y.) it's called Professional Performance Athletic Center and it's got a rehab and a full complex to train. I've been keeping myself in shape there, going in their five days a week. I feel like I'm in the shape I need to be in when it's time to get going.

Inside Pitch: You didn't pitch the year you were drafted. You had just a few innings in extended spring training. You're still very early into your career, but being down with the injury so early in the timeline, did you get a chance to take advantage of the organization's resources?

Matz: I spent time in the Dominican last year in Instructs and I was in the complex in Florida from March until May, so I got a good feel for how everything works. Obviously I wish I didn't have the injury and got more time to be around all of it, but everything still feels like a great fit and I can't wait to get back.

Inside Pitch: Were there any mental barriers you had to overcome? Was there a measure of disappointment to fight through?

Matz: It was pretty disappointing in the beginning. It was hard not to be. I made that drive back up to New York after it all happened and when I got home, it was like "wow, what just happened?". It was really disappointing because I trained in Garden City last year before I went down to Instructs and here was back in the same place rehabbing five days a week. It felt like it was a waste of time because a whole season went away, but I kept my focus on getting stronger and knowing that I was going to build it back up again.

Inside Pitch: What's the connection with the organization been like through all of this?

Matz: I've been talking with the coaches and the doctors, but coming in I feel like it's going to be fresh because of all the new faces that have come in since I was down there last year and early in the spring. Hopefully, I'll be in real games this year, be ready for the short season, get back into the flow of everything. For now, it feels like it's going to be starting fresh.

Inside Pitch: Do you feel at all like you have to prove yourself?

Matz: You know, I felt that way in the beginning especially after not being down there that long. But I got a chance to talk with people, pick people's brains, and can't really afford to worry about anything else except my game. I think if I go out there healthy and pitch well the rest will take care of itself.

Inside Pitch: You mentioned picking people's brains. Since you were limited physically, did you use your time away from the field to build the mental part of your game?

Matz: Definitely. That's something that the coaches stressed with me. Everyone's pretty much got the physical part, but it's about getting mentally tough. I used that as my approach while rehabbing. Since I couldn't pitch, it was a good time to teach myself about the game.

Inside Pitch: Is there any feeling of concern about trusting the elbow when you finally pick up a ball?

Matz: Honestly, I feel like it was just a month ago that I was down in Florida. Mentally, I feel like I'm ready to go. Physically, I'm not, but mentally I'm there because I feel like this whole time went really fast so I'm not worried about my arm when it's time to go.

Inside Pitch: If all goes well from November 1st on, what do you think your winter is looking like? Do you feel confident you will be ready for spring training?

Matz: I have the opportunity to go down to camp on February 1st which when I think I'll go down. I want to get in the warm weather and hopefully be ready to long toss. A week or two in that weather to get my arm loose will be good for me. After that hopefully I can get into some game action.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: So it's been roughly half of a year since you underwent Tommy John surgery. How's the arm?
\r\n
\r\nSteven Matz: The arm is doing real good. I feel great. My full range of motion is back. I start throwing November 1st which I'm really looking forward to obviously. It's been a long time being away from the field and playing.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Take me back to the surgery and what, if any, were the indicators for you that something was wrong?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: I had the surgery on May 18th, but it was weird how the whole thing started. Most guys feel a pop or something like that when they tear the ligament. Me, I was throwing two innings in extended spring training and my arm was feeling fine. I was doing my routine after the game. I worked out after the game, and then when I got back to the hotel my elbow was really, really tight.
\r\n
\r\nI thought I just strained something, but I didn't say anything. I went to throw a bullpen a few days after and the ball wouldn't go anywhere. My elbow was feeling really tight and bothering me. (Rick Waits) was there at the time and he noticed that I wasn't feeling right. He asked me where it was hurting me and I pointed to the spot to my elbow. He immediately told me to go see the trainer because it wasn't a good spot.
\r\n
\r\nI went a see the doctor and they rested me for a week, but I came back and it still wasn't right so they sent me for an MRI. At first, I didn't think it'd be anything serious but it ended up being torn.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You have the surgery in mid-May and you plan to throw on November 1st. You have to at least be pleased with that turnaround time, no?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: Yea, they said that in some cases you can be throwing again in four months but I'm still happy with my timeline. I don't want to rush back in, and the team didn't want me to rush back in before we were all sure I'll be 100 percent. I feel great now so everything is going just as they said.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You didn't have much of a chance to pitch since you were drafted and obviously over the last six months you couldn't do any baseball activity. What did you do to stay fresh and in game shape?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: I've been going to this place in Garden City (N.Y.) it's called Professional Performance Athletic Center and it's got a rehab and a full complex to train. I've been keeping myself in shape there, going in their five days a week. I feel like I'm in the shape I need to be in when it's time to get going.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You didn't pitch the year you were drafted. You had just a few innings in extended spring training. You're still very early into your career, but being down with the injury so early in the timeline, did you get a chance to take advantage of the organization's resources?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: I spent time in the Dominican last year in Instructs and I was in the complex in Florida from March until May, so I got a good feel for how everything works. Obviously I wish I didn't have the injury and got more time to be around all of it, but everything still feels like a great fit and I can't wait to get back.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Were there any mental barriers you had to overcome? Was there a measure of disappointment to fight through?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: It was pretty disappointing in the beginning. It was hard not to be. I made that drive back up to New York after it all happened and when I got home, it was like \"wow, what just happened?\". It was really disappointing because I trained in Garden City last year before I went down to Instructs and here was back in the same place rehabbing five days a week. It felt like it was a waste of time because a whole season went away, but I kept my focus on getting stronger and knowing that I was going to build it back up again.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What's the connection with the organization been like through all of this?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: I've been talking with the coaches and the doctors, but coming in I feel like it's going to be fresh because of all the new faces that have come in since I was down there last year and early in the spring. Hopefully, I'll be in real games this year, be ready for the short season, get back into the flow of everything. For now, it feels like it's going to be starting fresh.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you feel at all like you have to prove yourself?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: You know, I felt that way in the beginning especially after not being down there that long. But I got a chance to talk with people, pick people's brains, and can't really afford to worry about anything else except my game. I think if I go out there healthy and pitch well the rest will take care of itself.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You mentioned picking people's brains. Since you were limited physically, did you use your time away from the field to build the mental part of your game?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: Definitely. That's something that the coaches stressed with me. Everyone's pretty much got the physical part, but it's about getting mentally tough. I used that as my approach while rehabbing. Since I couldn't pitch, it was a good time to teach myself about the game.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Is there any feeling of concern about trusting the elbow when you finally pick up a ball?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: Honestly, I feel like it was just a month ago that I was down in Florida. Mentally, I feel like I'm ready to go. Physically, I'm not, but mentally I'm there because I feel like this whole time went really fast so I'm not worried about my arm when it's time to go.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: If all goes well from November 1st on, what do you think your winter is looking like? Do you feel confident you will be ready for spring training?
\r\n
\r\nMatz: I have the opportunity to go down to camp on February 1st which when I think I'll go down. I want to get in the warm weather and hopefully be ready to long toss. A week or two in that weather to get my arm loose will be good for me. After that hopefully I can get into some game action.
\r\n
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