Gee set for 1st Opening Day assignment

Courtesy of Dillon Gee

Dillon Gee's wife Kari Ann and 4-month-old son Hudson will be on hand Monday at Citi Field.MONTREAL -- Among those attending Dillon Gee’s first career Opening Day start on Monday at Citi Field will be his 4-month-old son Hudson.

“His first game will be my first Opening Day,” Gee said Saturday at Olympic Stadium, as the Mets completed their exhibition schedule and prepared to head to New York to begin the regular season.

With Jonathon Niese opening the season on the disabled list after dealing with elbow inflammation, Gee becomes the 23rd different Opening Day starter in franchise history. He opposes Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.


Dillon Gee becomes the 23rd different pitcher to start for the Mets on Opening Day.

Nine Mets pitchers have received the Opening Day honor multiple times: Tom Seaver (11), Dwight Gooden (eight), Johan Santana (four), Tom Glavine (four), Al Leiter (three), Bobby Jones (three), Craig Swan (two), Al Jackson (two) and Roger Craig (two).

“I can’t say I’m not excited. I am,” Gee said. “But really I’m just trying to take it like a normal day. I think family and friends are probably a little bit more excited than I am at this point. But I hate to say that, but it seems like I’m not excited. I am.”

Also on hand on Opening Day will be Ray Corbett, the scout who signed Gee after the Mets selected the right-hander in the 21st round in 2007 out of the University of Texas-Arlington.

Gee has talked in the past about constantly being doubted as a pro, beginning with that later-round selection, although on the eve of his first Opening Day start he downplayed the topic.

“I don’t try to think about too much that’s happened in the past,” Gee insisted. “I’ve come a long way, but I’m focused more on today and getting ready for the now and where I’m going to go.”

Gee, who produced a 2.71 ERA from May 30 onward last season, beginning with a start against the Yankees in the Bronx, also breezed through spring training. He tossed six no-hit innings against the Houston Astros in his final tune-up. He finished Grapefruit League play with a 1.08 and one walk in 16 2/3 innings.

Gee said he came into camp this year feeling more ready than ever to pitch.

A year ago, Gee was returning after missing a half-season recovering from surgery to address a blood clot in his pitching shoulder. But Gee meant that he felt more ready to pitch this spring training than in any past year for a different reason -- his altered offseason weightlifting regimen.

In the past, Gee would use heavier weights during the offseason than in-season. He would end up bulking up and becoming “too strong,” which was not conducive to the fluid motion required for pitching.

This past offseason, Gee did the same number of repetitions as past winters, but used the lighter weights he uses in-season.

“It’s tough to judge an offseason adjustment like that based on one spring training. We’ll see how the year goes and then you make your assessment after that,” Gee said. “But as of right now, I feel a lot better than I’ve ever felt this early. ... I feel looser. I’m more of an in-season-type condition right now.”