NEW YORK (AP) All of a sudden, Matt Harvey's postseason debut contains an extra layer of drama.
Wouldn't seem normal any other way.
With the New York Mets still steamed about a late slide by Chase Utley that broke Ruben Tejada's right leg, Harvey is set to start a pivotal Game 3 on Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first playoff contest at Citi Field.
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So the natural question is, will Harvey retaliate against Utley or perhaps some other Dodgers hitter?
''I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what's best for the team. For me, in my mind, that's going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board,'' Harvey said Sunday.
''But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what's right is exactly what I'm going to do,'' he said.
The first thing he needs to do is show up on time.
Harvey missed a mandatory workout last week and apologized after arriving late. The misstep drew a curt comment from Mets captain David Wright and the latest round of criticism for a star pitcher who is constantly in the headlines for one reason or another.
The next could be his latest showdown with Utley, a thorn in the Mets' side for more than a decade while he played for NL East rival Philadelphia.
The 36-year-old Utley has a part-time role with the Dodgers after they acquired him Aug. 19. But manager Don Mattingly said the second baseman might start Monday because of the lefty-righty matchup and his solid numbers against Harvey.
''He will definitely be a possibility,'' Mattingly said.
The best-of-five NL Division Series is tied 1-all after Utley's takeout slide swung Game 2 in Los Angeles, keying a four-run rally in the seventh inning Saturday night that sent the Dodgers to a 5-2 victory.
''Obviously the replay, everybody saw that it was more of a tackle than anything,'' Harvey said. ''We're all feeling for Ruben. We're going to pick him up, and we're excited to be back at home.''
Mattingly said Utley tried to reach out and apologize to Tejada, who will be replaced at shortstop by Wilmer Flores. Matt Reynolds, a Triple-A infielder who has never played in the majors, was on his way to New York as a potential addition to the roster.
Harvey already has a history with Utley, who angered the Mets with a rough slide into Tejada back in September 2010. During his first home start this season, the right-hander nailed Utley in the back with a 95 mph fastball after Phillies pitcher David Buchanan plunked Flores and Michael Cuddyer, both on the left hand.
''I think history has kind of shown that he's kind of been in situations like that before,'' Harvey said Sunday. ''I know personally, after watching in 2010 and hearing about it with Ruben as well, you know, there's some situations that need to be taken care of. I think the league is going to do their best to do that and take charge.''
With retaliation on everyone's mind, there is some thought Major League Baseball might instruct umpires to warn the Mets and Dodgers before Monday's game about throwing inside.
''I would personally hope that there wouldn't be such an issue, only because the impact it would have on the entire game itself, would change the way the game's supposed to be played,'' New York manager Terry Collins said. ''And I'm not saying we're trying to protect anybody, but in the game of baseball, we do ask our pitchers to pitch inside once in a while, and the last thing we need is an umpire to take the games into his hands where he thinks it was on purpose. It is the purpose; that's why you pitch inside. And all of a sudden to create a mess that certainly wasn't intended.''
Mattingly sees it the same way.
''You do want it to be about back to the field,'' he said. ''I know it's fun to talk about all this stuff, and you hear about it all, and it gets a lot of attention, but I'm sure it won't go away.
''I don't think there needs to be any kind of warnings. Just let the game play,'' he added.