Matt Harvey blanks Red Sox over four innings

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Matt Harvey successfully is emerging from Tommy John surgery as fellow rotation member Zack Wheeler heads for the same procedure.

Hours after the New York Mets announced Wheeler has a fully torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will require ligament-replacement surgery, Harvey made his third Grapefruit League start since his return on Monday.

He surrendered doubles to Pablo Sandoval and Mookie Betts but kept what was largely the Opening Day lineup of the Boston Red Sox off the scoreboard, tossing four scoreless innings before departing with his pitch count at 53 (35 strikes). He allowed three hits and struck out three in the Mets' 4-3 loss to Boston.

"It's a tough day for all of us," Harvey said. "The big thing was getting my work done and really focusing on that. If you want to call it picking the team up, I did my best to do that."

Harvey's velocity remained consistent in the 95 to 97 mph range, encouraging after a swoon in his previous outing.

"I felt great to the last pitch," he said. "So we're moving in a good direction."

Harvey allowed an infield single to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, but erased him by coaxing an inning-ending double play from David Ortiz on a 96 mph fastball. In the second, Harvey surrendered a one-out double to Sandoval, but stranded him by retiring Mike Napoli on a groundout and Shane Victorino on a fly ball to center field, both on 97 mph fastballs.

Betts doubled with two outs in the third on a changeup off the top of the JetBlue Park version of the Green Monster. Harvey preserved his scoreless outing, though, by striking out Pedroia on a full-count slider, which he is now reintroducing into his repertoire. Pedroia and Harvey met during the offseason, at a pre-Super Bowl dinner in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"Everybody is watching the homers of him hitting it over the Monster, so I wanted to keep the ball down," Harvey said.

Harvey tossed a perfect fourth and departed, capping his day with a strikeout of Sandoval on a 95 mph fastball.

The lone deviation from the standard Red Sox lineup was at catcher, where Ryan Hanigan started in the No. 9 slot over Christian Vazquez.

Harvey had dominated the Detroit Tigers on March 6, in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22, 2013. He retired all six batters he faced while his fastball topped out at 99 mph.

Harvey had more difficulty in his second start, last Wednesday against the Miami Marlins. He surrendered two runs in 2 2/3 innings and his fastball dipped to a more ordinary 93 to 95 mph. Harvey described himself as "sluggish," but suggested that was the result of routine fatigue at that point of spring training and nothing alarming about his return from surgery.

As for Monday's outing, Harvey said he actually thought a few fastballs felt slow. So he peeked at the velocity postings on the scoreboard and was pleasantly surprised.

"I threw two or three fastballs I could have sworn were 88 mph," Harvey said. "I looked up and I was a little shocked how hard it was. You don't want to look up there and see 86. Every time I've looked, it's been kind of a reassuring thing that I can still hum it up there."