LOS ANGELES -- At the start of the year, many players avoid making hard statistical goals for the season. Matt Harvey does not.
One of Harvey's aims heading into his first full big league season was to pitch 200 innings, which he might have done over two levels last year had the Mets not shut him down in mid-September.
This year, 200 innings sits near the upper limit of what the Mets will allow Harvey to achieve. Though the organization has not revealed any hard numbers regarding a shutdown of its young ace, the working assumption is that they will not allow him to exceed last year's total of 169 1/3 innings by much more than 30.
Assuming Harvey continues to average seven innings per start, as he has up to this point, he will hit the 200-inning mark around the second week of September. That would prompt the Mets to shut him down with as many as three full weeks left in the season -- a fate they could have delayed by roughly a week had Jeremy Hefner not suffered an elbow injury, forcing them to whittle their six-man rotation down to five.
Harvey understands all that, and will ultimately accept it. But he also feels there is value in lasting through the end of September.
"Obviously, I'm not going to be happy to miss any starts, but if it's a week, I'm not going to look at it like I didn't finish a full season," Harvey said.
The only ways Harvey might last deeper would be if he pitched some clunkers, if the Mets skipped him once or twice in the rotation, or if they removed him prematurely from successful starts. None of those scenarios are ideal.
So Harvey, who actually prefers the five-man rotation because it helps him maintain his normal routine, may have to accept an early shutdown for the second consecutive season. His silver lining? Finishing around 200 innings would all but guarantee that he will have no workload restrictions in 2014.
"I try and go nine every start," Harvey said. "So obviously if they start adding up and they decide it's time to shut it down, that's their call. I'm never going to want to give up the ball or not go out there, but I like the fact that it's a five-man rotation. It's been like that forever for a reason, and if they decide that I've had enough, then I've had enough."
Mets insist Flores' future is as an infielder
LOS ANGELES -- Make one thing clear: Wilmer Flores is an infielder -- definitely a third baseman, possibly a second baseman. Flores, manager Terry Collins insisted on Monday, will not appear for the Mets in the outfield or at first base.
That creates the rather obvious question of where he might play in the future. With David Wright entrenched at third base and Daniel Murphy holding down second, Flores may only have a future with the Mets if Murphy is traded. Which may yet happen.
But for the Mets even to entertain something like that, Flores will have to prove his value between now and season's end. Collins may not think eight weeks is a significant enough sample on which to judge a player, but in Flores' case, it's all the Mets have. So they will watch him throughout August and September, hoping to gain a better understanding of his skill set heading into Spring Training.
That audition will include some time at second base, where Flores played most of this season in the Minors. The Mets may use him there as soon as this week, with Murphy penciled in for an off-day against one of the Dodgers' left-handed pitchers. But that will depend on the health of Flores, who tweaked his right ankle running first to third in the second inning of Monday's 4-2 loss to the Dodgers. No tests are scheduled, and Flores is day to day.
"You'd like to try to keep him in a comfort zone as best as you can," Collins said. "But I think it's important when he gets an opportunity to play second base here to see how he handles it, so we can have a better judgment of whether or not we think he can play the middle of the infield at the Major League level."
As for Flores, defensive position doesn't matter. Being in the Major Leagues does.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing," said Flores, who tied a franchise record with nine RBIs through his first six career games. "I just want to play. I'll play anywhere."
Collins to give Davis more starts vs. southpaws
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Terry Collins' trust in Ike Davis has been renewed.
Collins said Monday that he plans to start Davis against a left-handed pitcher this week, something that has not happened since the first baseman returned from the Minor Leagues in mid-July. After watching Davis grind out a walk Sunday against D-backs lefty specialist Joe Thatcher, Collins said, he felt he would reward his streaking slugger with additional playing time.
Davis entered Monday's play sporting a league-leading .538 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.
"It's going to be nice if I do get a start to get three at-bats against a [lefty], instead of just a random reliever that you don't get to see that much," Davis said. "I'm looking forward to it."
• Neither third baseman David Wright (strained right hamstring) nor closer Bobby Parnell (herniated disk in neck) has had any change in his medical status since last week, according to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. That means that Parnell, who is eligible to return from the disabled list Thursday, will not do so at that time.
The Mets have left open the possibility that both Wright and Parnell could miss the rest of the season.
• Right-hander Jeremy Hefner had his sore right elbow examined Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, but will not know whether the Mets will place him on the disabled list until after an examination Wednesday. The Mets optioned Hefner to Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday, under the assumption that they may reverse the move this week and place him on the DL.