SARASOTA, Fla. -- Dillon Gee struggled throughout Spring Training, but as it comes to a close, there's much bigger things to overcome. The righty is in the process of moving forward and fully recovering from a scary injury that cut his promising 2012 season short.
In July, an examination revealed a clot in an artery in his right shoulder, and a procedure was done to break up the clot with a catheter. On July 13, he underwent surgery to replace part of the artery.
The Mets are entering the season hoping that their pitching can be a strength. Gee is an important part of that. But there doesn't seem to be much worry about his ability to be consistent and reliable once the real games begin.
"He's fine," said manager Terry Collins. "His last outing was so good, it's probably unfair to compare."
Gee was a solid part of the Mets' rotation in 2012, going 6-7 in 17 appearances with 97 strikeouts. In 109 2/3 innings of work, he proved to be a breakout sensation. His strikeout and walk rate was the best of his career.
In his final spring appearance Saturday, Gee's performance was a mixed bag of results. While he consistently threw first-pitch strikes, he struggled to keep runners off base and allowed his third home run in his last four outings. He worked quickly and efficiently out of the gate, but had trouble getting through the lineup after that.
"It's just good to see him just get out there," said Collins.
Gee took the loss Saturday, pitching four innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He gave up the home run in the top of the third, but he stayed ahead of hitters, consistently getting into pitchers' counts. He also didn't allow a walk and struck out four Orioles batters. He leaves for New York with a 5.87 ERA in eight spring appearances.
Gee's progress has become even more important with the news that Johan Santana will be lost for the season due to left shoulder surgery. With so many question marks, Gee could step up and be one of the solutions. He showed signs of life Saturday. There was life on his fastball, life on his off-speed pitches. His confidence didn't get shaken when he had the bases loaded. He worked out of that jam.
Pre-injury, Gee was proving he could give the Mets a shot of what they desperately needed.
As he makes his comeback, and the regular season begins, Collins sees a guy poised for success.
"There's probably still some stiffness," Collins said. "But I'm not worried. He's fine. He was dominant before today, and he can do it again."
Johan to have season-ending shoulder surgery Tuesday
If Johan Santana is going to pitch again in the Major Leagues, the Mets' left-hander first will have to successfully rehab from shoulder surgery for the second time in less than three years.
The club announced on Saturday that Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will perform a procedure on Tuesday to repair the torn anterior capsule in Santana's pitching shoulder. That almost certainly will force Santana to miss the season and could spell of the end of his career with the Mets, considering his six-year, $137.5 million contract is set to expire.
Santana, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2004 and '06, missed the '11 season following surgery on the shoulder and now faces a steep climb toward another comeback. He will be 35 at the start of next season.
"It's very difficult. If anybody can do it, it would be Johan," Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen told The Associated Press. "We wish him luck and we feel sick about what's happened."
The previous surgery came on Sept. 14, 2010. Santana made his return last season and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts. He had a 2.38 ERA after throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history last June 1 against the Cardinals, an outing that required 134 pitches.
Santana posted an 8.27 ERA the rest of the way and was shut down in mid-August as he fought problems with his ankle, back and shoulder.
"I've known Johan long enough to know that I don't think that he'd want to go out like that," third baseman David Wright told the AP. "He's going to probably work just as hard, if not -- if it's possible -- work harder, to come back from this. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I see him pitch again."
The Mets were looking forward to a healthy 2013 from Santana when he reported to camp in mid-February, but he soon began dealing with left shoulder weakness and never made it into a Grapefruit League game.
Nonetheless, Warthen told the AP that Santana's injury isn't "a byproduct of the no-hitter."
General manager Sandy Alderson has said the final year of Santana's contract is not insured, which will force the Mets to pay his full $25.5 million salary this year, plus another $5.5 million if they want to buy out his $25 million team option for 2014.
If Santana does not pitch again for the Mets, he will conclude his tenure with a 46-34 record and 3.18 ERA over 109 starts. He led the Majors with a 2.53 ERA and finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2008 after being traded by the Twins to New York.
But the injury bug bit Santana after that, and he hasn't reached 30 starts in a season since.
The Venezuela native is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA over 12 big league seasons and sits 12 strikeouts away from the 2,000 mark.
Wright not feeling added pressure as captain
SARASOTA, Fla. -- David Wright's return from the World Baseball Classic was followed by appearances in Double-A and Triple-A games. In his first Grapefruit League game of the spring on Friday, he went 0-for-3 against the Cardinals. In the final game of the spring, Wright went 0-for-3 again Saturday against the Orioles.
The newly appointed captain of the Mets (the fourth in team history), Wright's spring has been interesting and all eyes are certainly on him.
So does being named captain of the ship add any pressure?
"No, not really," Wright said after Saturday's game. "It was an honor. But I'm not going to change anything about myself. I probably want to do it better, but just continue to be a leader. I won't change how I am."
Despite being a seasoned veteran, Wright admits to the same feelings he gets every year before the regular season starts up.
"The night before is restless," he said. "You get the butterflies, but a good kind of butterflies."
Mets put up good pitching numbers this spring
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Mets' pitching has been solid this spring, as evidenced by the 4.35 ERA the staff posted, which was in the top five among National League clubs.
"Really?" said lefty reliever Josh Edgin. "I mean, I personally feel good. I'm where I want to be going into the season."
Edgin pitched a scoreless inning Saturday and allowed just one hit.
"I wasn't rushing, and I was locating my fastball," he said.
Jeremy Hefner also got some work in after leaving a game earlier in the week with an elbow contusion. He had a rough day back, giving up three home runs in two innings.
"I feel fine. It's just a matter of getting back out there," Hefner said. "There was no discomfort. I just need to clean up the mechanics, which was the problem. There's no swelling."
Hefner sees a pitching staff that has key ingredients to give the Mets a good shot at competing.
"Last year, we had a lot of young guys," Hefner said. "This time we have a mix of youth and experience. We have a great group of guys"
Infielder Reese Havens and left-hander Darin Gorski were outrighted off the 40-man roster to the Minor Leagues on Friday.
"I didn't know that," Collins said. "That's up to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson]. But Haven needs to do what he can to stay healthy. Gorski, we know he can pitch. They just have to be able to do it at this level. If he can pitch like that here, he can pitch like that in the big leagues."
Jessica Quiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.