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MLB notebook: Mets' Harvey convinced he can pitch this season

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 8:15 p.m.

• No matter what the Mets think, Matt Harvey is convinced he can pitch this season. New York's ace had elbow ligament-replacement surgery Oct. 22 and hasn't thrown a baseball from more than 60 feet off flat ground. New York doesn't expect him to return until 2015. Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and was the NL starter in last year's All-Star Game at Citi Field.

• Jonathon Niese was relieved to be back at spring training with the Mets after receiving a relatively good medical report. The left-hander had a MRI of his pitching elbow in New York on Monday, and the scan revealed he had inflammation but no damage to his ulnar collateral ligament.

MLB.com reported Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has been cleared by doctors to remove the splint from sprained middle right finger for the first time since camp opened five weeks ago. Iwakuma, 32, hasn't been able to grip a baseball since catching his hand in netting in Los Angeles just before spring training began.

• Astros pitcher Mark Appel, the first pick in the 2013 amateur draft, could be close to making his spring training debut following an appendectomy. The Pirates took Appel with the eighth pick in the 2012 draft, but he chose not to sign.

• The biggest buzz didn't come from a third straight positive outing by right-hander Michael Pineda in the Yankees' 8-1 victory over the Red Sox. That honor went to a swarm of bees that took over left field and delayed the game for seven minutes before the bottom of the third. Umpires called out the grounds crew, which chased the bees away with bug spray.

• Don Kelly (Mt. Lebanon) hit a grand slam, and Austin Jackson and Ian Kinsler also homered to lead a Tigers' split squad over the Blue Jays, 18-4.

— Wire reports

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