Gee opens up in meeting with Collins, then delivers
NEW YORK -- Normally, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee considers himself the type of person to suppress his emotions. However, he had spent all night thinking after his last start on April 16 and needed to vent.
The next day, Gee initiated a meeting with pitching coach Dan Warthen and manager Terry Collins to let off some frustration, stemming from the winter through Spring Training regarding his uncertainty within the team's rotation.
"I tend to bottle things up my entire life," Gee said after Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the Braves. "I don't talk much about stuff and it can wear on you. As strong as I try to be, stuff can wear on you. It was just nice to have a sounding board for a little bit, just hear things out and turn the page."
Gee's frustration was born during the offseason, when he found himself as the center of swirling trade speculation.
He has been a reliable, if unspectacular, starter during his career with the Mets. He does not come with the pageantry surrounding each Matt Harvey start and his fastball velocity can hardly match that of Jacob deGrom, but Gee had accumulated a career 3.97 ERA heading into Wednesday's start. He held the Braves to two runs in seven innings, extending his streak of lasting at least five innings to 49 consecutive starts, the second most in franchise history to Dwight Gooden's 50.
Yet entering Spring Training, Gee found himself the odd man out of the rotation and expected to start the season in the bullpen. That all changed during the middle of the spring, when Zack Wheeler was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, resulting in season-ending Tommy John surgery. The team announced almost instantly that Gee would replace Wheeler in the rotation. However, as the spring went on, the Mets were so impressed with Rafael Montero that they considered inserting him into the rotation instead of Gee.
Gee ultimately edged out Montero, who began the season in the bullpen, but Gee struggled in his first two starts, allowing nine runs in 10 2/3 innings. Last week, the Mets announced Montero was being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas to build arm strength for a spot start later this month against the Marlins. Although the Mets are always looking to find ways to control the innings of young pitchers like deGrom and Harvey, this was considered a challenge for Gee.
Pitch well or your spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy.
Gee declined to make excuses for himself, but he was pitching with all of this on his mind, so before he took the mound again, he needed to clear his head.
"I said, 'Dill, you don't owe anybody any explanations,'" Collins said. "'You deserve this chance. You deserve to be in this rotation. You've just got to go do your job.' And tonight, he did his job."
Said Gee: "I think I just needed to talk, and [Collins] was there for me. We talked about a lot of things. I think I was going about a lot of things the wrong way and I needed to take it upon myself to make sure that I'm getting it done out there. That's what it boils down to -- it's me."