Mets morning briefing 6.11.11

Dillon Gee is off to a 7-0 start, the best by a rookie pitcher to open a season since Jered Weaver began 2006 with a 9-0 record with the Angels. Lucas Duda had two RBIs in his return to the majors. And the Mets are now within a game of moving to .500 for the first time since they were 22-22 after beating the Yankees in the Subway Series opener in the Bronx on May 20.

Saturday's news reports:

Jason Bay sat back-to-back days, but Terry Collins pledges to place him back in the lineup Saturday. Bay, in an 0-for-23 rut, needs to play through it, former hitting coach Howard Johnson believes. "It's ridiculous it's come to that," HoJo told Dan Martin in the Post about sitting Bay. "If he's supposed to be part of the solution, I don't see the point of taking him out of the equation. It's sending him mixed messages. I don't care if he's 0-for-50, you're not going to get him relaxed by taking him out of the lineup." Johnson added that Citi Field has to be a factor in Bay's woes. Said HoJo: "There's no question that now it's a factor. We had a lot of conversations about that last year. Just driving in some runs isn't good enough for him. In baseball, you're paid for what you did in the past. All those previous home runs got him paid, and he feels a certain pressure to do that now and the only way to get him out of this is to get him in the lineup every day."

• Daily News columnist John Harper says trade Francisco Rodriguez to the Yankees. Writes Harper:

The Mets and Yankees last made a trade on Dec. 3, 2004, when they swapped Mike Stanton for Felix Heredia, a has-been for a never-was, if you will. In other words, there wasn't much chance of either side looking bad, which is the primary reason they so rarely do business with one another. But in this case, it makes too much sense for both sides not to do the obvious and put Francisco Rodriguez in pinstripes. The Yankees urgently need a proven late-inning reliever now that Joba Chamberlain is apparently headed for Tommy John surgery, and the Mets are even more desperate to avoid paying K-Rod the $17.5 million they would owe him next season should he finish 55 games for them this season.

• Collins believes Johan Santana may be back in late July. The manager also plans to invite Santana, who is recovering from Sept. 14 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, to New York to throw a bullpen session or two now that the weather has warmed. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

• Duda said confidence is a key in him producing at the major league level. He has tended to get overwhelmed, he acknowledged. “You trick yourself into thinking you are back in Buffalo,” Duda told reporters. “It kind of eased my tension a little bit when I saw [Justin] Turner playing third, Ruben [Tejada] playing second, Gee on the mound and [Josh] Thole behind the dish.” Read more in Newsday.

• Read game stories from Friday's 8-1 win in the Times, Newsday, Record, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Post.

BIRTHDAYS: A day after Jose Reyes celebrated the anniversary of his 2003 major league debut, he turned 28 Saturday. ... Original Met Frank Thomas turns 82. (He’s the fourth-oldest living Met, according to ultimatemets.com.) Thomas was the first true power hitter in Mets history, leading the 1962 Mets with 34 homers. Thomas’ most-famous long ball came on July 9, 1964, when in his first at-bat after returning from a glandular infection, he hit a walk-off shot against the Cardinals (cap-tip This Date in Mets History). -Mark Simon