PHOENIX - Dillon Gee, who has spent his season as the odd man out, was reminded of that status again Saturday when the Mets formally returned to a five-man rotation before their 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
Gee did not hide his displeasure shortly after being moved to the bullpen, a shift that came after he made only one start in the Mets' short-lived experiment with a six-man rotation.
"I'm almost at a point now where I just don't care anymore," said Gee, whose status has been on shaky ground since the winter. "I'm kind of just over it all. So I'll do the best I can in the bullpen."
Gee has not demanded a trade, though the Mets have been open to dealing him since the offseason, when persistent rumors of a deal hovered over the veteran righthander.
In the wake of his demotion, however, Gee took the unusual step of openly discussing his value, both as an untested reliever and on the trade market now that he's no longer starting.
"I kind of felt like any value, if I had any at all before this, is probably gone," said Gee, who is 0-3 with a 4.46 ERA.
With a deep stable of arms, the Mets have been open to trading Gee for months, though no serious suitors have emerged.
Terry Collins said the Mets reconsidered using a six-man rotation for fear of disrupting the routines of the rest of the starters, headed by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The six-man rotation had been designed to cut down on pitchers' workloads, particularly Harvey, who is in his first season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. But doing so would have meant some pitchers making starts on seven days' rest.
Collins said he "didn't like the looks" of the potential of so much extra rest. And with the Mets in contention for first place in the NL East because of their strong pitching -- Saturday night's loss dropped them a half-game behind the Nationals -- the priority has been placed on maximizing their arms.
"We've got to get our guys out there and we'll worry about [workloads] down the road when the time comes," Collins said. "We've just got to get them out there. They're not going to help if they're not going to pitch for seven days."
Instead, the Mets will remain in a five-man rotation through off days, which will provide extra spacing between starts.
Collins said the use of spot starters -- perhaps Gee, prospect Steven Matz or Rafael Montero once he's healthy -- will help ease workloads.
Of course, that measure alone won't get the Mets' pitchers within their innings limits.
Nevertheless, the Mets still believe they can keep Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard within their innings limits while avoiding a shutdown period during the season, which has been the primary goal of the Mets' efforts to manipulate the rotation.
"We'll worry about that down the road," Collins said.
With that, an exasperated Gee began his latest stint in the bullpen, where he has scant experience.
He had been relegated to relief work in spring training but returned to the rotation when Zack Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery.
Gee's presence in the bullpen gives the Mets eight relievers, meaning they will surely shed an arm. Collins said a move could come this week, when catcher Travis d'Arnaud is expected to return from a bone bruise in his right hand.
Though Gee has heard rumblings of a shift, he thought the Mets would remain in a six-man rotation for more than one turn. He last started Wednesday against the Padres.
In his first outing since returning from a groin injury, Gee got battered, allowing seven runs [four earned] in four-plus innings.
Collins said he apologized to Gee, though the manager stood behind the shift.
"We're in a spot right now where we've got a chance to move on and create a tremendous atmosphere for the rest of the summer," Collins said. "You don't know what's going to happen in September."