FORT MYERS, Fla. - With the Mets "still digesting" the news of Zack Wheeler's season-ending elbow injury, general manager Sandy Alderson on Monday declined to name a replacement for the starting rotation.

But manager Terry Collins threw his support behind Dillon Gee, the odd man out who now appears to be the front-runner for the last of five rotation spots.

"I would say it's Dillon Gee's job right now," Collins said.

Internally, the Mets haven't ruled out going with prospects such as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Long Island's Steven Matz. Still, Gee appears to be the most likely to break camp in the rotation.

"I think they've got to pitch their way up," Collins said of the Mets' young arms. "But I think those decisions will be made later in spring."

In Monday's 4-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Red Sox, Syndergaard allowed two runs and three hits in 22/3 innings.

"My mindset doesn't change," Syndergaard said. "I'm just going to go out there every day and compete for the job. But that decision's not up to me."

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Searching for help

With a handful of unimpressive in-house options for lefthanded reliever, the Mets have been scouting other major-league camps for potential trade options, a source confirmed Monday.

The Orioles' Brian Matusz is among those on the Mets' radar. They believe Matusz can step in for Josh Edgin, who is set to undergo Tommy John surgery this week and will miss the entire season.

Step forward

Bobby Parnell will throw in a minor-league game Wednesday, Collins said. It will be the righthanded reliever's first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April.

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Parnell was slated to return last week but was pushed back because of a strained hamstring suffered during fielding drills.