Mets move to 5-man staff, shift Gee to 'pen

'This is kind of not good for anybody,' right-hander says

Mets move to 5-man staff, shift Gee to 'pen

PHOENIX -- Mets manager Terry Collins called Dillon Gee into his office, demoted one of his longest-tenured players to the bullpen, and then promptly apologized to him.

Such is the state of things with the Mets, who made their shift from a six-man to a five-man rotation official on Saturday by shifting Gee to the bullpen. The move allows the Mets to use Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and their other top starters as often as possible, though it leaves questions regarding their plans to shave innings for those pitchers later this summer -- and plenty more questions regarding Gee's future.

"This is kind of like not good for anybody," Gee said, referencing the Mets' already-crowded bullpen and his inexperience there. "I felt like any value, if I had any at all before this, it's probably gone. What am I going to do out of the 'pen? I just felt like there's really not a whole lot of good that comes from it.

"If there was any glimmer of value before this, I don't see how it will be any more with me moved to the 'pen."

It has been a frustrating year overall for Gee, who endured countless trade rumors this winter and reported to Spring Training as a member of the bullpen. Zack Wheeler's season-ending injury changed that momentarily, until some members of the front office began fighting to put Rafael Montero in the rotation instead of Gee. Gee eventually won out, posting a 3.86 ERA until a groin injury landed him on the disabled list for a month.

Gee rehabbed his injury and was ready to return after two Minor League starts, but the Mets forced him to make a third as they figured out logistics for their six-man rotation. Then, after Gee gave up seven runs (four earned) over four innings of his first start back, the Mets abandoned their six-man plan.

The entire sequence has left Gee, the Mets' second-winningest pitcher over the past seven years, frustrated and baffled.

"I'm almost at the point now where I don't even care anymore," Gee said. "I'm kind of just over it all. I'm going to do the best I can out of the 'pen now."

Collins said he plans to use Gee in more than a mop-up role, with the Mets' unsettled setup mix providing no shortage of potential high-leverage opportunities. But Gee, who has never pitched in relief for any extended period of time, said he is skeptical of how he will adapt.

Beyond that, Gee said, any trade value he may have had early this year may soon disappear. The Mets do plan to use Gee as a regular spot starter, shaving innings for their other pitchers in that manner. But Collins indicated that the organization will not make concrete plans for that anytime soon.

Perhaps Gee's strongest backer in the organization, Collins listened to all of Gee's concerns upon delivering the news. He offered plenty of encouragement, but none of the answers that Gee was seeking.

"He's fought so many obstacles ever since I've been a New York Met," Collins said. "The strange injuries that have occurred in his career, he's fought through them and he's made himself a very good Major League pitcher. Right now, I need him to be a very good Major League relief pitcher."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.