WASHINGTON -- "Gee" was a popular name in Spring Training last year, when Dillon Gee so impressed Jerry Manuel that the Mets manager found every opportunity he could to praise him. "Very impressive," was how Manuel liked to describe the young right-hander. "Very, very impressive."
On his manager's recommendation, Gee might have even cracked the rotation that year, if not for the right labrum tear that limited him to nine starts at Triple-A Buffalo.
Doctors recommended rehab rather than surgery, which hindered his progress. But now, Gee is finally ready to make his big league debut, starting Tuesday in place of the injured Johan Santana.
"This has been unbelievable, especially to end [the season] here," Gee said. "The main goal was just to go out this year and prove that I'm healthy again and I can still pitch, and I think I proved that."
Along with right-handed reliever Sean Green, lefty Raul Valdes and outfielder Jesus Feliciano, Gee joined the Mets Tuesday in their latest wave of September callups. At least for one turn through the rotation, though, he will play a more significant role than any of the other three.
Due to the Mets' caution regarding Santana's pectoral strain, Gee will step into the rotation on Tuesday against the Nationals. He finished the Minor League season 13-8 with a 4.96 ERA at Buffalo, setting a franchise record with 165 strikeouts -- despite not possessing classic swing-and-miss ability.
"I don't know how to explain that," said Gee, who walked just 41 batters in 161 1/3 innings.
To make room for Gee on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred outfielder Jason Bay to the 60-day disabled list. Bay, who is attempting to make a late-September return from post-concussion syndrome, now won't be eligible to return until Sept. 24.
In the meantime, the Mets would like to see if Gee's four-pitch repertoire can work against the National League.
"He's a command guy, with what I saw was a good changeup," Manuel said. "I liked that about him, being able to throw a changeup at any time during the count."