SAN DIEGO -- After Dillon Gee got rocked in Wednesday night's 7-3 loss to the Padres, Mets manager Terry Collins acknowledged that the veteran righthander might be skipped in his next turn through the rotation.
"If I say so, it's a headline," Collins said, who remained noncommittal about what's next for Gee. "So, I'm not going to say so just yet."
Gee's return from the disabled list marked the beginning of the Mets' six-man rotation. But already, it appears the Mets might be open to altering the plan.
With an off day on Monday, Collins said he would consult with pitching coach Dan Warthen about skipping Gee, which would then keep ace Matt Harvey from pitching with two extra days' rest.
"I haven't even thought about anything like that," said Gee, who was chased after allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits over four-plus innings. "I'm just getting ready like I normally do and throw when they tell me to."
Collins has said repeatedly that if needed, he's willing to make changes. If Gee's struggles continue, the Mets conceivably could entertain promoting Ward Melville product Steven Matz, the top pitching prospect who continues to impress.
At Triple-A Las Vegas, the lefthander is 6-3 with and a 1.98 ERA in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League.
Gee's performance in his first start since May 3 only invited more scrutiny. "They squared up a lot of balls," said Gee, who had been sidelined by a groin strain. "And the ones they didn't even square up got in."
Fill-in third baseman Ruben Tejada didn't help by committing a pair of errors. It was his failure to glove a routine Derek Norris grounder that helped subject Gee to a two-run first inning. "You've got to catch the baseball when he pitches," Collins said of Gee, who typically pitches to contact.
Of course, Gee added the defensive misery himself in the fifth, when he knocked down a Yonder Alonzo comebacker but fired wide of the plate on his feeble attempt to keep Justin Upton from scoring.
The next batter, Will Middlebrooks, ripped a two-run single to rightfield that gave the Padres a 7-0 cushion. The hit spelled the end for Gee, who lost his franchise-record stretch of logging at least five innings in 51 consecutive starts.
The Mets (29-25) dropped two of three to the Padres to start a seven-game road swing, which continues Thursday night with the first of four in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks.
Even with the loss, the Mets remained a half game back of the Nationals in the NL East. But their road struggles continued, dropping nine of their last 10 games away from Citi Field.
While Gee endured a bumpy night, Padres righty James Shields showed no problem in handling a Mets lineup that was missing Michael Cuddyer, who was scratched from the lineup after complaining of a stiff neck.
Shields improved to 7-0, holding the Mets to two runs on six hits in seven innings.
The Mets made things interesting in the ninth, rallying off struggling closer Craig Kimbrel. After a Middlebrooks error gave the Mets life, Lucas Duda came to the plate as the tying run, with the bases loaded and two outs.
However, Duda grounded out to end a night that seemed spoiled from the start.
With the bases loaded in the first, Gee (0-3, 4.46 ERA) set the tone for his evening, forcing in a run when his first pitch to Yonder Alonso wound up clipping the Padres first baseman on the leg. "I've had bad outings before and I'll probably have them again," he said. "But it's what you do in between that matters and I think I'll be fine."