Harvey's Citi Field debut set for Friday

Harvey's Citi Field debut set for Friday

SAN DIEGO -- For all Matt Harvey has accomplished in his first week-plus in the big leagues, Mets fans have not yet had an opportunity to watch the rookie pitch in New York.

That will change Friday, with the Mets planning to slot Harvey into their series opener against the Braves at Citi Field. Previously unsure if they would use Harvey on Friday or some other date, the Mets have finally made a decision; following his third career start Sunday in San Diego, Harvey will pitch on regular rest in New York.

Much of the decision revolved not around Harvey but injured left-hander Johan Santana, who is scheduled to return to active duty next Saturday against the Braves. That gave the Mets two choices: either start Harvey on regular rest Friday, or on six days' rest the following Sunday.

Not wanting to disturb the rookie's schedule in any way, the team chose the former route. So Harvey will pitch Friday and Santana next Saturday, with Jeremy Hefner dropping out of the rotation following Saturday's start in San Diego.

"We'll fit him in there," manager Terry Collins said of Santana. "We might have to back up somebody in the next four or five days to see how we get through it, see where it all fits. Hopefully we don't have to use a sixth man, but if we need to give somebody a blow, we will."

For now, the Mets will also avoid using knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on three days' rest, though that could change when the team plays 13 consecutive games without an off-day later this month. Using Dickey on short rest ideally would allow the team to give Santana, Chris Young and Jon Niese extra days to recover from their starts, while keeping Harvey on schedule as often as possible.