Gee enduring 'awkward' transition to relief role

Gee enduring 'awkward' transition to relief role

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though the Mets gave Dillon Gee "plenty of time" to warm up in Wednesday's game, in his words, Gee's routine was still "miniscule" compared to his typical progression as a starting pitcher. Quite simply, Gee isn't used to this whole relief thing. And that shined through in the Mets' 7-4 loss to the Marlins, which included a critical Scott Sizemore RBI single off Gee.

"I think he's very awkward at it," manager Terry Collins said of Gee, who is converting to relief work after spending the first seven full years of his professional career exclusively as a starter. "It's a whole different role for him. It's a new phase in his game, and we're going to continue to run him out there in those situations."

On Wednesday, the Mets told Gee about four or five batters in advance that he needed to be ready. It was enough; thanks to the mid-80s heat and humidity at Roger Dean Stadium, he had little trouble working up a sweat despite the abbreviated warm-up. (Gee is used to warming for about 30 minutes before starts.)

So for more than his pregame routine, Gee was upset at the two-strike pitch he made to Sizemore.

"I wouldn't say it's difficult, it's just different," Gee said of relieving. "But I felt pretty comfortable coming in today. I just made a bad pitch selection. It doesn't matter what part of the game you're coming in, you've got to make good pitches."

Gee has struggled with that so far this spring, giving up two runs in his first outing and letting an inherited runner score on Wednesday. But the Mets, who are moving Gee to the bullpen because they have five other established starters already in the rotation, are committed to the experiment. They want Gee on the team because of his past successes, knowing he may also be valuable as a rotation fill-in if injuries strike this summer.

It's possible Gee still earns a start or two this spring, but for now, he is a member of the bullpen. And that almost certainly is where he will land on Opening Day.

"It's different," Gee said. "But I think it's something I can do."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.