PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - When Zack Wheeler suffered the elbow injury that ended his season before it began, his open rotation spot fell to Dillon Gee. Suddenly, however, it might not be so clear-cut for the Mets.

Rafael Montero furthered his case to bump Gee from the rotation with six scoreless innings Monday in the Mets' 7-1 win over the Marlins, who stacked their lineup with regulars.

Montero walked none, struck out six and again displayed the pinpoint command that has made him a top prospect.

Montero's splendid spring has opened eyes within the organization, which appears divided over who should break camp as the fifth starter. He has lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.40.

"That's something we'll talk about over the next two or three days," GM Sandy Alderson said. "Dillon has the experience and has been successful. Montero has the upside as a young guy. And he demonstrated today that when he pitches and has location, and uses all of his pitches, he can be outstanding."

Nevertheless, Gee has pitched well of late and has backers within the organization. "There's certainly a presumption that Dillon's the guy," Alderson said. "I'm not sure that that has changed. But Montero has done everything he possibly can to change that presumption, so we'll just have to see."

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Terry Collins said Gee's track record will be a factor. "Dillon Gee to me is a guy who has been over .500 on a team that hasn't been over .500, and that's got to be a huge consideration," he said. "But Rafael Montero is certainly making a play for it."

Collins said he's open to using Montero, 24, in the back end of the bullpen. The Mets also remain open to trading Gee, but a source said there are no active talks involving him.


Murphy iffy for opener

Daniel Murphy (hamstring) took ground balls and has made progress, but Alderson said his status for Opening Day remains "really touch-and-go." . . . Alderson said he'd be surprised if Vic Black (shoulder fatigue) is healthy by the season opener.