Eovaldi starts strong as Marlins beat Mets
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Dillon Gee’s initial task this spring is to put his health concerns in the past so he can focus entirely on pitching.
Gee threw three scoreless innings Sunday for the New York Mets in their 6-4 loss to the Miami Marlins, his first start since having a blood clot removed from an artery in his pitching shoulder.
“I’m excited the way I feel so far. Obviously there’s a lot more to go,” he said. “I’m just trying to put (the blood clot) behind me. I can’t go out there and pitch timid. I felt great. In my mind, there’s nothing to be worried about right now. Just getting better.”
Gee gave up three hits, a walk and struck out one in his first start since July 7. The right-hander’s only previous outing this spring was two innings in relief against the University of Michigan on Feb. 24.
“I thought he had great movement on his fastball today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It was good to see he’s OK. It was a big step forward for him.”
Mets catcher John Buck hit a three-run homer against his former team.
Miami starter Nathan Eovaldi was charged with three runs and two hits in 2 2-3 innings. He struck out four and retired his first seven batters before giving up a home run to Brandon Hicks.
“The fastball felt good. The first two innings, I felt like I moved the ball in and out real well, didn’t just stay to one side,” Eovaldi said. “That third inning, I felt like I was staying away from everybody, wasn’t getting the ball in as much.”
Gee was 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA last year, one season after winning 13 games.
“I’m still getting in pitching shape,” he said. “My body feels great. I’m trying to get mechanics ironed out a little more, repeating the delivery. Location will come. April 1, hopefully, everything’s ready to rock `n’ roll.”
Gee was helped by a diving catch in right-center from Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a ball hit by Juan Pierre leading off the first.
“That’s a web gem right there,” Gee said. “I went into the dugout after that and gave him a big hug.”
Nieuwenhuis exited with a bruised left knee after stealing second in the seventh.
Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-run double. Outfield prospect Christian Yelich had an RBI double and Casey Kotchman added three hits.
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a solo homer off Mets reliever Robert Carson in the seventh, his second of the spring.
NOTES: Mets LHP Johan Santana threw off a mound at the team’s facility, one day after general manager Sandy Alderson said the two-time Cy Young Award winner would need 10 more days to build up enough arm strength to pitch in an exhibition game. “Maybe it was a pretty good motivational thing,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said. … Marlins 3B Placido Polanco (stiff back) was not available. He and manager Mike Redmond said the injury was not serious. “With the cool weather, we didn’t want to risk it,” Redmond said. … Redmond said OF Justin Ruggiano (back strain) was progressing and playing catch but remained 6-10 days from returning. … Former Marlins manager Jack McKeon shook hands and spoke with Collins behind home plate minutes before the start of the game.