It’s not as if Dillon Gee didn’t think he’d ever pitch again. He was just concerned with how effective he would be at this level.
Gee was apprehensive and worried when his pitching arm and hand went numb last summer. At the time, he was coming off a stretch of 54 strikeouts in 60 innings and his best start when he gave up one run in eight innings against the Cubs, July 7. He felt no discomfort during the game, but a few days later came the numbness and just like that his season was over.
After surgery to repair an artery in his shoulder, and assurances from doctors he could resume his career, Gee didn’t doubt he’d be with the Mets this spring. He was probably thinking about it coming out of anesthesia. What he didn’t know was how long it would take for him to get where he needed to be. He’s still not there.
“I wanted to prove to myself and everybody else I could still do it,’’ said Gee, who’ll start for the Mets tonight against Houston in Kissimmee.
That’s why last September was so important. As soon as he received clearance he started to throw, and by the end of the season knew he could enter winter with peace of mind.
“I didn’t want to spend the offseason wondering if I could do it,’’ said Gee. “It was important to take that load off my mind. I didn’t want to be thinking about it all winter.’’
In doing so, Gee was able to get in his normal off-season program and put himself in position to adjust if there was a setback.
“If I waited and something happened in spring training, it would be too late to get it fixed,’’ Gee said. “I have felt great since the surgery. I have had zero setbacks.’’
What he has had is difficulty refining is mechanics, and subsequently, his change-up. It hasn’t been the prettiest of springs for him, as he’s given up seven runs on seven hits and eight walks, with only two strikeouts in nine innings.
However, Gee isn’t worried about his composite results as six of those runs and four of the walks came in his last start, March 14, when he was rocked by Detroit. Gee reiterated the problem wasn’t surgery related, but just not having it, yet.
“My mechanics have been off,’’ said Gee. “It is always about location, and that comes with repetition every spring. I am trying to refine everything.’’
Specifically, Gee needs his change-up to be effective because he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball. An effective change-up, he said, sets up everything else.
“I need to throw my change-up for strikes any time in the count,’’ Gee said. “It isn’t where I want it to be. It is a feel pitch and it takes some time. It is a huge pitch for me.’’
Tonight will be Gee’s fourth start of the spring and he could get two more so there’s not a whole lot of time. He will enter the season as the fourth starter.