Manuel always seems to pick a few favorites early in camp, eyeing the first few bullpen sessions and watching the pitchers who are a step ahead of the hitters.
Gee, a 21st-round pick out of Texas-Arlington in 2007, had concluded a solid 2008 season that he began with high Class A St. Lucie and capped with four starts at Double-A Binghamton. In 154 innings, he compiled a 2.92 ERA and 114-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In other words, he appeared on the verge of pushing his way into the organization's plans.
But after the reality of a demotion, it was discovered that he had a slight tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. He made just nine starts for Triple-A Buffalo, going 1-3, 4.10 but with 42 strikeouts in 48 innings.
Now, the 23-year-old Gee is healthy and appears to be back. He didn't get the invite to major league camp this year, and he was replaced by the likes of Jenrry Mejia and Tobi Stoner as the apple of Manuel's eye this spring.
Gee opened the 2010 season with 13 shutout innings for Buffalo, all of them against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He finally allowed a run (two, actually) in five innings during his April 22 start against Rochester.
Through three starts, Gee was 3-0, 1.00 and had allowed a mere 11 hits and one walk in 18 innings, while striking out 16.
"It's very simple," field coordinator Terry Collins said. "Once he gets his arm strength back 100 percent, we expect to be the same quality pitcher he was."
Gee spent nine months working his way back into shape, and Collins is confident that he can get on the radar once again.
"He mixes speeds, changes up well, all the things you look for in a quality pitcher," Collins said. "We think he's going to have another shot at getting back to the major leagues."
• The Mets traded third baseman and British Columbia native Shawn Bowman to the Blue Jays for future considerations. A 12th-round pick in 2002, Bowman batted .294/.346/.458 in 347 at-bats for Binghamton, accruing the most playing time since 2004.
• Second baseman Reese Havens began the season on the Binghamton disabled list with an oblique strain. He last played in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .368 in 38 at-bats, showing patience (eight walks) and power (six extra-base hits). Fellow 2008 first-round pick Ike Davis, a first baseman, made his big league debut on April 19.