PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Dillon Gee hasn't been told that he's starting on Opening Day. But as it stands, the righthander is lined up for the honor against the Nationals on March 31.

It would be the first Opening Day assignment for Gee, who has established himself as a mainstay with the Mets. He is 33-26 with a 3.89 ERA the past four seasons.

"It's humbling that they would trust me with that day," said Gee, who will pitch Friday against the Twins in Fort Myers. "It's a big honor if I get it . . . I haven't been told officially. If it's me, I'm ready to go."

Manager Terry Collins said he's leaning toward starting Gee but that the final decision has yet to be made.

Jonathon Niese had been the front-runner to start on Opening Day for the second straight season.

But general manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets might place Niese on the disabled list to begin the year because of elbow issues, though he would be eligible to return during the season's first week.

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Niese is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, his first since his second MRI exam of spring training revealed no structural damage in his elbow.


Pep talk

Ruben Tejada finished 3-for-3 in his best performance of spring training. The outburst at the plate came one day after reaching out to former Mets star Jose Reyes.

"We just talked about concentration, about having some fun," said Tejada, who had been struggling.

Extra bases

In the Mets' 7-6 walk-off win over the Braves, centerfielder Juan Lagares made a leaping catch against the wall to take away an extra-base hit from Justin Upton. But he left the game with a bruised left shoulder after he was hit by a pitch . . . After a rough first frame, Zack Wheeler settled down, allowing two runs in 51/3 innings . . . Matt Harvey will take the next step in his long-toss program, moving to 75 feet beginning Friday.