Odds for this much cake? Not so good.

Early Friday morning, members of the Mets’ culinary staff emerged from the clubhouse kitchen carrying three separate birthday cakes: one each for Michael Cuddyer (age 36), Johnny Monell (29) and Matt Harvey (26). The team also acknowledged Brandon Nimmo, in Minor League camp, who turned 22.

All four began this spring in a group of 57 players invited to big league camp, which begged the question of how ridiculous the odds of this happening must be. Though it takes just 23 people in a group for there to be at least a 50-percent chance of a shared birthday, four separate people sharing a birthday in a group of 57 seemed outlandish.

Not for Twitter follower @AdamMets, who used something called a Poisson Approximation to determine that the odds of this happening are roughly 0.81%:

So now you know, math whizzes. One of the cakes was Oreo-flavored, by the way, which in so many ways seems so much more interesting.

Harvey (birth)Day goes swimmingly in Jupiter

JUPITER, Fla. — Consider this mathematical improbability: Matt Harvey was one of four Mets players to celebrate a birthday on Friday, receiving an early-morning cake in the clubhouse alongside outfielder Michael Cuddyer and catcher Johnny Monell. (The fourth, outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo, is in Minor League camp.) But his celebration did not linger. At age 26, there was much work to do.

It certainly seemed like business as usual later in the day, when Harvey waited out a brief rain delay before setting a new high of 80 pitches in his 4 1/3-inning, one-run outing against the Cardinals. Though Harvey was less efficient than he would have liked, the most remarkable aspect of his outing was how unremarkable it all seemed. He was just plain old Matt Harvey, hitting 97 mph on a notoriously slow Roger Dean Stadium radar gun while keeping the Cardinals largely off the basepaths.

After giving up a leadoff double to Peter Bourjos, which resulted in a sacrifice fly, Harvey retired eight in a row until Bourjos reached again on a strikeout and wild pitch. Harvey struck out five in total, walking none and allowing three hits.

With a week until camp breaks, Harvey will start one more time in Florida, before making his season debut on April 9 in Washington. At that point, he will be 17-and-a-half months removed from Tommy John surgery.

Harvey on Mets passing him over for Opening Day: “It’s something that I expected.”

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — As far back as September, Matt Harvey had penciled Opening Day onto his calendar, going as far as to proclaim that he was chalking the Nationals up “as a ‘W’” on April 6.

The realities of rehabilitation and the politics of Mets camp have slowed him only slightly. A more subdued Harvey tipped his cap on Tuesday to Bartolo Colon, who will receive the Opening Day start in his stead, and to Jacob deGrom, who will start the home opener. Harvey will pitch the third game of the season on April 9, as well as the Mets’ second home game on April 14.

“It’s something that I expected,” Harvey said. “I was happy to be healthy going into Spring Training, so … I’m happy that I get to start in Washington. I’m excited to throw there. We’re excited to match up with them.”

As for the ‘W’ he had penciled in on Opening Day?

“Bartolo’s got that covered,” Harvey said.

The Mets’ justification in avoiding Harvey for both openers was that they wanted to honor pitchers who actually contributed last year. While Harvey missed the entire season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Colon led the staff in innings and wins, and deGrom won the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Theoretically, lining Harvey up for the second home game instead of the home opener also allows the Mets to draw two big crowds in a row to Citi Field.

“Obviously with Bartolo throwing 200 innings, getting 15 wins is well-deserved of Opening Day,” Harvey said. “And all that Jacob did last year, he obviously deserves Opening Day at home. I’m happy to be throwing in the first series and obviously extremely happy about throwing at home.”

Not that Harvey’s debut will lack juice. The Mets’ third game will pit him opposite Stephen Strasburg, one of the few pitchers in baseball who truly understands the hype surrounding Harvey. Back in April 2013, Harvey outdueled Strasburg in a game at Citi Field, prompting thousands of fans to chant “Harvey’s better!” during one of the more memorable games of his breakout season.

This time, the atmosphere should be just as electrically charged.

“That’s an important series for us, obviously opening up the season,” Harvey said. “Regardless of who we’re facing, there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in Spring Training, and that’s a big series so we’re all excited.”

Wheeler has torn UCL; Tommy John surgery probable

Update, 12:39 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the second straight season, the Mets’ rotation will be incomplete.

Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler has been diagnosed with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the team announced Monday, making Tommy John surgery inevitable. Though the Mets have not committed to the operation, general manager Sandy Alderson described Wheeler’s situation as “pretty clear-cut,” calling the diagnosis preliminary only because Wheeler has yet to meet with team orthopedist Dr. David Altchek.

Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery is the standard treatment for a torn UCL, requiring an approximate 12-month recovery.

“The diagnosis is not surprising,” Alderson said. “We had been forewarned by the doctors that his elbow was a concern, and that it was going to have to be managed over the course of this season. It wasn’t clear that the ligament was involved at that time, but we understood that we were going to have to manage his medical condition over the course of the season. So when he complained of the elbow pain, it wasn’t a surprise to us.

“When the elbow is involved, anything can happen.”

The news broke as Matt Harvey, who spent the entire 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, prepared to make his third spring start.

“Thanks for everybody’s support and kind words,” Wheeler wrote on Twitter. “It’s greatly appreciated. Long road ahead.”

Wheeler, 24, was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 32 starts last season, putting him in contention for the Mets’ Opening Day start. But his elbow was an issue as far back as last summer, Alderson said, when he first complained of discomfort. The Mets ordered an MRI last September, as Wheeler was putting the finishing touches on a 16-start run that saw him go 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA. Though that test came back clean, Wheeler complained of elbow discomfort again over the winter. A second MRI in January also showed no UCL tear.

Reporting to Spring Training in February as usual, Wheeler complained of elbow discomfort a third time last week, prompting the Mets to scratch him from his Saturday start. At the time, they said it was more due to a blister underneath his right middle fingernail than to anything related to the elbow, with Alderson going as far as to say that Wheeler would not need another MRI. That changed a day later, when the team sent him for one and forwarded the results to Dr. Altchek in New York.

Shortly thereafter, it became clear that Wheeler was destined to become the fifth Mets pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery in the past 20 months, joining Harvey, Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner (twice) and Josh Edgin. Several pitchers with partially torn UCLs have attempted to rehab their injuries instead of undergo surgery, most notably Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. But rehab is only possible if the UCL is not completely torn, as Wheeler’s is.

“It’s a blow, but at the same time we knew there would be a lot of uncertainty surrounding Zack and his elbow over the course of the season,” Alderson said. “We’re obviously not happy he won’t be with us, but I think if there’s a silver lining, it’s that we now have some certainty. We know that we have a solution for this, that he won’t have to manage the kind of pain that I think he had to manage over the course of last season. Doing that over a career is simply unsustainable.”

To replace Wheeler in the rotation, the Mets will almost certainly turn to Dillon Gee, a longtime starter who had been demoted to bullpen work. But the Mets also have several top prospects ready or close to ready for the Majors, including Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero. They will be considerations early in the season, if not immediately.

Said Alderson: “We’re still digesting the injury to Zack and really have not started to address that issue.”

Wheeler satisfied elbow injury is not serious

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Rather than prepare for his originally scheduled Grapefruit League start against the Nationals, Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler spent his Saturday morning downplaying the elbow injury and blister that forced him to the sideline.

“It’s something that I’ve had before and had to deal with,” Wheeler said of his right elbow tendinitis in particular. “It mainly sort of picked up last year, but I’ve had it my whole career. It’s been that way. I’ve dealt with it and stuff. I’m just going day-to-day with it.”

For now, that means a brief period of rest. The Mets treated Wheeler’s discomfort last season with anti-inflammatories and other treatments, but no injections. And Wheeler simply pitched through the pain — finishing 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in his first full season. His blister is a recurring injury that he has had since high school, and also something he believes he can manage.

“Every pitcher in here pitches through pain at some point,” Wheeler said. “It’s just a matter of dealing with it. … You don’t want to push yourself during Spring Training. The games don’t mean anything here. I’m just trying to get myself right for the season when the games actually do mean something.”

Wheeler plans to rest for a few days, throw a bullpen later this week and make his next scheduled start, as he continues to compete for an Opening Day assignment. Right-hander Tyler Pill took his spot Saturday against the Nationals, in what the Mets anticipate being a one-start hiatus.

Still, the club has reason to be concerned, considering Major League Baseball’s growing history of elbow injuries turning into operations. Over the past 20 months, Mets pitchers Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell and Jeremy Hefner (twice) have undergone Tommy John surgeries. Reliever Josh Edgin is currently considering an operation as well. Outside the Mets’ clubhouse, Rangers ace Yu Darvish is about to join the growing ranks of top-flight arms headed for the operating table.

“You always have that in the back of your head, but you try not to change anything you’re doing — arm angle, mechanics, that kind of stuff,” Wheeler said. “You just keep doing what you’re doing and trust it.”

Josh Edgin weighing Tommy John surgery

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets left-hander Josh Edgin is considering undergoing Tommy John surgery, which would force him to miss the entire season.

Edgin returned to Mets camp Thursday from New York, where orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Altchek diagnosed him with a stretched ligament and a bony mass in his left elbow, according to general manager Sandy Alderson. Edgin will spend the next few days deciding if he wants to attempt a rehab program or undergo surgery, which would sideline him until 2016.

“It’s disappointing, yes,” Edgin said. “Actually, really disappointing. We’re going to have a great year this year, whether it’s with me or without me.”

If Edgin opts for rehab, he will still open the season on the disabled list. But he could contribute as soon as April, with the caveat that the stretched ligament and bony mass will still exist — perhaps portending future injury. Surgery would knock Edgin out for the season, but theoretically fix the problem for good.

“It’s not a black-and-white situation,” Alderson said. “There’s a certain amount of gray area here that requires some judgment on the physician’s part, as well as Josh deciding exactly how he wants to approach it.

“We’re going to let Josh sort through the information. We’ve talked about it and we’ve talked with the doctor. But look, I’m not the patient. I’m not the person who’s got the injury or the career in front of it.”

To that end, Edgin said he is considering “wife, kids, future, teammates, a lot of stuff” as he weighs both options. Understanding that Tommy John surgery “has a great outlook on it,” with most patients recovering all of their velocity within one year, Edgin also wants to pitch.

A former 30th-round Draft pick in 2010, Edgin, 28, grew up on a farm in Three Springs, Pa., receiving a \$2,000 bonus as the 902nd player chosen that year. He blazed through the Mets’ system from there, coming to camp last month all but guaranteed a job for the first time. Now, Edgin is facing a decision that will significantly affect his career either way.

“Whatever I choose to do, I’m going to go at it 100 percent,” Edgin said.

Like most clubs, the Mets have had multiple big leaguers undergo Tommy John surgery in recent seasons. Most famously, Matt Harvey underwent the procedure in Oct. 2013 and is due to make his regular-season return in April. Closer Bobby Parnell had Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and is also due back this year, either in late April and early May. Right-hander Jeremy Hefner, who appeared in 50 games for the Mets from 2012-13, underwent his second Tommy John procedure last October and will miss this entire season.

Harvey initially considered rehab before consenting to surgery. Across town, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is undergoing a rehab program in lieu of Tommy John. But both of those players had partial tears of their ulnar collateral ligaments; Edgin’s ligament is stretched like a loose rubber band, not torn, and Alderson indicated that rehab alone is not capable of tightening it.

If Edgin does miss significant time, the primary candidates to replace him are Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez and Scott Rice, all left-handers. Jack Leathersich is also on the team’s radar, but remains an unlikely option given his control issues. Starting pitching prospect Steven Matz is not a bullpen candidate at this time.

Harvey is human? Harvey is human.

JUPITER, Fla. — Turns out Matt Harvey is mortal, after all.

Five days after electrifying a sold-out crowd at Port St. Lucie, Fla. with two perfect innings, Harvey fell back to earth with a 2 2/3-inning, two-run performance against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. It was Harvey’s second game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in Oct. 2013.

The damage against Harvey could have been worse, considering the first four Marlins to face him in the second inning reached base, with Ichiro Suzuki’s single plating the first run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s walk loading the bases with no outs. But Harvey induced a double-play on a soft liner to third base, then struck out Reid Brignac to escape the jam.

An inning later, Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-hop double off the left-field wall, plating Christian Yelich. Harvey recovered to strike out Michael Morse. His day ended there, at 49 pitches. Once again touching the upper-90s with his fastball, Harvey topped out at 98 and sitting a few miles per hour slower than that.

He allowed a total of six hits in 2 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking one, while raising his Grapefruit League ERA to 3.86.

It may be Harvey Day, but Harvey tries to keep himself at bay

VIERA, Fla. — Take Matt Harvey, one of the most competitive pitchers in baseball, and place him in a game after 16 tiresome months of rehab. Throw a former Cy Young Award winner on the other side, then toss them both into the carnival like atmosphere of Port St. Lucie, Fla.’s Tradition Field. Home opener, mid-70s, packed house — that sort of thing.

Understand, then, that Harvey can say and do all the right things leading up to the Mets’ 1:10 p.m. ET Grapefruit League against the Tigers on Friday, his first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in Oct. 2013. He can swear a dozen times over that he’s “just looking at it as another day” and that he’s “getting ready for the season like anybody else.”

Manager Terry Collins still knows that once Harvey steps into uniform, stands on the mound and sees Tigers ace David Price on the other side, it will be impossible — even in a boring, old, counts-for-nothing spring game — to completely rein in Harvey.

“I just want him to understand this is part of the process of getting back,” Collins said. “You’re not going to do any more to make a huge impression on this club by trying to overthrow tomorrow. Just go out there, hit your spots, work on your stuff and let the two innings play out. But as we all know, we’re going to have to ratchet him down a little bit probably before he walks out on that mound.”

Said Harvey: “I don’t think my mentality’s going to change at all. It’s just my first outing in Spring Training, getting ready for what’s coming in the future. I’m not looking at it as a comeback or anything of that sort. It’s me preparing for a normal season.”

For Harvey, Friday’s Grapefruit League game will complete an 18-month process that began when he partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, cutting short what had been, up to that point, one of the finest seasons of any Mets pitcher in history. Following a two-month flirtation with rehab, Harvey decided in Oct. 2013 to undergo surgery, then spent most of the next year working his arm back into shape — sometimes in the privacy of the Mets’ Port St. Lucie training center, often within the media crush of New York City.

By Sept. 2014, Harvey had convinced the Mets that he was back to his old self. Still, the out-of-contention team held him back, knowing that an extra six months could mean the difference between long-term health and a future recurrence.

That decision makes Harvey’s matchup with Price his first game action since Aug. 24, 2013, also against the Tigers.

“Prior to the surgery, he had premier stuff,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “He looked like he was bound to be a superstar. Certainly for his sake and the game’s sake, I hope he bounces back and continues where he left off, because he was a very bright spot for Major League Baseball as a young player.”

Daniel Fields, one of the Tigers hitters making a two-plus-hour bus ride across Florida to face Harvey, noted that having Price on the other side only adds to the juice.

“Those are two of the best arms in the game right now,” said Fields, who will be in a lineup also set to include big leaguers Anthony Gose, Jose Iglesias, Rajai Davis and Nick Castellanos, but not star veterans Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes or Victor Martinez. “Whenever you get a matchup like that in Spring Training, that’s what you want to see. I’m excited for [Friday]. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

The Mets are, too. They just want Harvey to stick to his word and avoid overdoing it.

“Only Matt Harvey can speak for Matt Harvey,” Collins said. “For me, it’s a Spring Training game. I know that it’s a story because he’s Matt Harvey, but I don’t want to see anything more than I would see in a normal Spring Training game.”

Kevin Long breaks down Mets hitters

New Mets hitting coach Kevin Long spoke at length this morning, offering his take on several Mets hitters. Read the story on Mets.com, but also check out these bonus takes:

On Curtis Granderson: “When I’ve seen Curtis — and I’ve seen him at a very high level — he’s able to get on base. He’s able to drive the ball. And certainly the top of the order, those guys are going to get more at-bats throughout the year. Let’s say he hits sixth. He’d probably lose 70, 80 at-bats to the guy who hits leadoff. So do you want your best hitters and the guys who get on base the most? Certainly you do. There’s some other options, so that’s not etched in stone, but we’ll say how this plays out. Terry’s ultimately is going to have the final say-so on that. But Curtis has done it before. He’s capable of doing it. So we’ll just see how it plays out.

“Obviously we’ve worked on a few things, and we’re going back to the blueprint of when he was with the Yankees. There are a couple minor things that we’re working on. One is getting his hands into a consistent position, and just getting him to feel the consistency he had, the shortness to the ball, obviously the compact swing that he had, the explosiveness — it’s all in there. It’s just a matter of going back, kind of going through the video, getting together, trying some things in the cages and seeing if we can gain on it. And I think we have. I think he feels good about his work that he’s done in the offseason, and now coming into Spring Training — it’s not that we’re gaining momentum anymore, it’s more about staying where he’s at now.

On Juan Lagares: “Juan’s talented. I’ve noticed that and I’m excited about this player. He’s got a nice demeanor about him. He’s confident. Obviously he’s going to have to hone in on the strike zone and kind of take these chases and these swings out of the zone, and be able to lay off some pitches, and determine what’s a pitch that he can do damage to. And if he can’t, certainly laying off is going to do what? It’s going to increase his on-base percentage. I think with Juan, it’s more about, ‘Can we maximize his ability to get on base?’ So he’s got some work to do.

“There’s drills you can do. There’s a lot of vision stuff. And I’ll use Robinson Cano as an example because he’s the guy who sticks out, but we really paid attention to what he was swinging at, talking about his ‘A’ swing, talking about doing damage to the ball, talking to him about, ‘Today, you swung at seven pitches out of the zone. Let’s see if we can get that number down to four a day.’ And then all of the sudden, the four turns into two.’ Instead of trying to get there all at once, you gradually get there. So we’ll do strike zone stuff where we’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s just swing at pitches middle-away. Anything in, take it, instead of trying to cover the whole strike zone and expand it.’ You can do that early and you can do that in plus counts, and a lot of times that we’ll help as well.

“He’s got a good swing and he’s always had the ability to get hits. He finds a way. I think he hit .285, which the Major League average is .250, so he’s 35 points up there. What we’re looking at is, ‘What is his on-base?’ It’s probably .315, .320. If we can get that number up to .350, .360, you’ve gain on it quite a bit.”

On David Wright: “He’s a tough one for me to kind of give you an honest evaluation of. I wasn’t here. I didn’t live it. I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see his face. I didn’t know what kind of workload he was able to do or not able to do. So in David’s case, certainly I can tell you that if I’ve got a shoulder issue and I need to get extension, at some point it’s going to pinch. And it’s going to hurt. So if you saw him cutting off his swing and not getting through baseballs or not driving the ball, you can put two and two together and say they probably had something to do with it.”

On Travis d’Arnaud: “It’s funny because when I looked at Travis and I looked at him early on, it was almost like the competitiveness was out of him. The athlete, he was thinking too much. He wasn’t trusting his ability, and probably what had gotten him to the big leagues. Maybe he didn’t know if he could compete at this level. I think when he went back to Triple-A, he said, “You know what, I’m going to go back to the way I hit.’ And one of those things was getting on the plate. Getting on the plate certainly helped him a great deal. I could see his confidence level rise, I could see his swing start to come together, and really I’ve done very little with Travis — almost nothing, other than keep his confidence level up and his spirits up, and let him know that what you did last year when you came back was enough, and it was terrific.”

On Lucas Duda: “He’s well aware that he needs to work. And all lefty-on-lefty stuff is, or righty-on-righty stuff, it’s angles. So we’ll get different angles and we’ll get the ball coming from this angle a lot more than this angle. Obviously he’s had some success [against right-handed pitchers]. He’s had some success [against lefties] in the Minor Leagues. So it’s here. He can do it. When he’s able to swing, we’ll get back to doing some lefty-on-lefty stuff, and see if we can’t get him a little bit more consistent there. Obviously we’re talking about a 30-home run guy. There’s not many of those in the Major Leagues. So the more that we can get Lucas in the lineup, the better off we’ll be.

“Using the whole field certainly will get that average where it needs to be. But Lucas, if I’m not mistaken, I think he has power to all fields. Certainly we’ve seen more to the pull side, and most hitters are going to have more power to the pull side, but this something that Lucas has done in the past. He’s been able to drive the ball to all fields. So I’m sure some of our attention will go to that, and we’ll see if maybe we can get that average to elevate just a little bit.”

On Bartolo Colon: “Bartolo’s got some work to do [laughing]. He’s not too vested in putting that much time into getting his swing where it needs to be. He said he had two hits last year, and I said, ‘How about four hits this year?’ And he said, ‘How about three?’ That’s where we’re at with Bartolo.”

Matt Harvey: “In the end, maybe my surgery was the best thing to happen to me”

Two days after reporting to Spring Training, Matt Harvey has posted a revealing essay on Derek Jeter’s “Players’ Tribunal” site. The essay details his 2013 offseason trip to Laos and subsequent rehab from Tommy John surgery.

Harvey writes:

Every morning for the first few weeks after surgery, all I could do were arm curls with five-pound weights. It was an eye-opening experience — realizing that one year you can pitch in an All-Star Game in front of your home crowd and then a few months later all you can do is curl five-pounders.

But being away was good for me. It gave me time to do some soul searching. Just like in New York, I walked around a lot to clear my head. Being alone in a country and not speaking the language turned out to be a good temporary escape. For the first time in a long time, I was in a place where nobody recognized me. In New York, occasionally people will say hello to me on the street. (Other times, even hometown fans have a hard time recognizing me, like I had fun showing in this video I did for Jimmy Fallon.) In Laos, I was invisible and that was fine. I remember talking to a street vendor and having a funny “conversation” — we had to use hand gestures — but when I asked to take a photo with her, she refused. To her, I was just an American weirdo with one arm in a sling and the other arm making crazy hand signals. I couldn’t blame her. We waved goodbye and I went on my way.

You can read Harvey’s entire entry here.