They all can’t throw like Matt Harvey this time of spring.
Overpowering and arguably flawless in yesterday’s start against Miami, Harvey had one of those seamless starts pitchers rarely have in their third spring training game.
Dillon Gee, today’s starter against Detroit in Lakeland, has no such illusions.
“My mechanics are off,’’ Gee said. “It will be just my third start of the spring, so they are bound to be off. Spring training is for trying to figure out that kind of stuff.’’
Gee insists it is not an injury-related mechanical problem, but a matter of working off the rust that is a natural occurrence this time of year. It’s part of the process of getting ready to make 30 stars a summer.
“It’s all about location,’’ said Gee as he laced up his shoes while sitting at his locker yesterday afternoon. “Location is all about repetition early in spring training. I’m trying to refine everything.’’
As it is with Harvey and Jon Niese, Gee said mastering his change-up is the pitch he most needs to refine that will tell him if he’s ready to start the season. A change-up is thrown with the same motion as the fastball, and even though the pitcher uses the same grip, he releases the pitch with a different pressure on the ball.
“The change-up is such a feel pitch,’’ Gee said. “It takes time to feel comfortable with it. … Having good results would be good, but the important thing is to feel comfortable with all my pitches and improve my location.’’
Gee made a good impression in 2011, going 13-6 with 114 strikeouts and 71 walks in 160.2 innings. He was 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA in 109.2 innings last year before it was cut short when he had surgery to repair an artery in his shoulder.
Gee complained of numbness in his arm and hand that prevented him from properly gripping the ball. The injury generated the uneasy speculation of there being a problem with blood circulation, which naturally lends itself to concern about a heart issue.
Surgery repaired the problem and alleviated the heart concern, but Gee still had the concern about his ability to throw. He rehabbed and threw in the bullpen in mid-September to preclude the wonder of a winter of not knowing.
“I wanted to prove to myself and everybody else that I could still pitch,’’ Gee said of the importance of getting on mound before winter. “I didn’t want to wait and then find out there was something wrong (in spring training). If that were the case it would have been too late to get it fixed.’’