CHICAGO — Dillon Gee hadn’t started a game since last Sept. 13, having made 11 big-league relief appearances in the interim. In the first six seasons of his major league career, all of it with the Mets, he started 110 games and pitched in relief just four times.
In between, though, well, Gee doesn’t relish the memory. He appeared in 33 games for the Royals, but only 14 were starts. And that’s not the best situation, he said.
“I like to start. I like the bullpen, too,” Gee said after limiting the White Sox to two hits over six innings and earning his first win as a starter since Aug. 29, 2016. “The only thing I’ve expressed to these guys [is that] in the past, I’ve been bounced back and forth quite a bit, and sometimes my consistency has lacked when that happens.”
In other words, he’d prefer remaining a long reliever if the Twins don’t want to put him in the rotation — and he thinks the Twins would ultimately benefit from his pitching if they choose a role for him and stick with it.
“If I get a start, I’m going to go out there and do my best for the team. I definitely think I can be a starter still,” the 31-year-old veteran righthander said. “I just prefer for it to be a longer term. But whatever the team needs, that’s what i’m going to do.”
Paul Molitor said after the game that he hasn’t made a decision about Saturday’s game in Toronto, but Gee was always a candidate. He’ll confer with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, he said, before choosing a starter.
Max Kepler started Monday’s first game against a left-handed starter, Carlos Rodon, against whom he is now 0-for-11 in his career, but he sat out the second game against a righthander, Carson Fulmer, a rookie he had never faced.
Seems a little odd, right?
Turns out, Kepler was actually written into Molitor’s lineup, batting second, for Game 2, until the manager learned that Kepler had begun feeling nauseous in the heavy humidity and 85-degree heat of Chicago.
“I think he’s OK. He came down with a bug or something, and wasn’t feeling well,” Molitor explained. “We decided it wasn’t a good idea to put him out there” for the second game.
And as luck would have it, the Twins actually benefitted from Kepler’s absence. Jorge Polanco hit a three-run second-inning home run to stake the Twins to an early lead, something that wouldn’t have happened had Kepler been feeling OK.
“I told him he should go high-five Kepler, because I didn’t have him in the lineup until Kepler got scratched,” Molitor said. “So that worked out pretty well.”