- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The picture Matt Harvey tweeted of himself making an obscene gesture on his way into surgery caused such a stir that the injured New York Mets ace shut down his Twitter account.

Harvey confirmed he posted a photo Tuesday morning that showed him raising the middle finger on his left hand as he was about to undergo Tommy John surgery exactly six months ago. Harvey said his mother took the picture and he posted it on Twitter because he was excited to mark the milestone and wanted to have a little fun.

“I guess that was how I felt going into surgery, realizing that it was going to be a pretty long process ahead of me. So it was all fun and games,” Harvey said in the dugout before the Mets played the St. Louis Cardinals. “I guess that was my way of saying that I was going to try and beat the process.”

The pitcher said he won’t apologize for simply showing the playful side of his personality.

“I’m not going to apologize for being myself and, you know, having a good laugh at a funny little picture,” he said. “But I’ve kind of had enough with Twitter and I guess not being able to show your personal side, and I’ll keep those pictures to myself.”

The photo generated plenty of attention online, and the Mets said they asked Harvey to take it down because they deemed it inappropriate. Harvey decided to delete his Twitter account entirely.

“Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything officially wrong with it,” he said. “I know you listen to the radio and you hear a lot of rap music, and (it has) things that are a lot worse than what I was showing - a genuine excitement and a little bit of laughter towards a picture that I was looking at this morning. But I guess to stop the controversy deleting the Twitter was an easy out of not worrying about it anymore.”

It’s not the first time Harvey has raised eyebrows on social media or butted heads with the Mets. After some commotion this spring, the club agreed to let him rehab in New York when the team is home this season, rather than in lonely Port St. Lucie, Fla.

“It wasn’t me trying to bring bad press to the New York Mets or anything like that. You know, it was my account. I felt like it was a funny picture, but obviously it was taken the wrong way so I took it down,” Harvey said.

“I guess after so many times you get of not being able to show some fun or some laughs and things I thought were funny, and people who do know me and know that I 90 percent of the time are probably joking around when it comes to stuff like that, I felt like it was time to shut her down,” he added. “I think when you can’t really have fun anymore on a social media account, I think it comes time to get rid of it and, you know, I’ll have my fun with my friends and teammates who do know me for who I am.”

Harvey is making 20 throws at a time on flat ground at this stage and said his rehabilitation is going well.

“I feel great. My arm feels unbelievable,” he said.

Harvey said of course he would like to return before the end of this season, but “obviously the biggest thing is maybe not coming back this year and being healthy, but being healthy for the next couple years.”

“I just passed the six-month point, so for any of that discussion to even happen, it’s still a long ways away,” he said.

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