Niese breaks down Mets' starting rotation

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jon Niese will continue his road to recovery on Thursday morning with two innings in a Minor League game at the Mets' Spring Training complex. It will be his first game action since an MRI last week revealed no structural damage in his sore left shoulder.

David Wright, who has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game out of a desire to preserve his overall health, will be among those batting against Niese. Wright does not know when he will make his official spring debut, but that could come as soon as this weekend.

"I feel like I'm ready," Wright said. "It's ultimately their call."

Also set to appear in the Minor League game are Bartolo Colon, who has yet to appear in a Spring Training contest, and rehabbing closer Bobby Parnell. The Mets are scheduled to play in an additional "B" game against the Astros at Kissimmee, Fla., as well as their regularly scheduled Grapefruit League game. With 64 players still in camp, the idea behind the pseudo-tripleheader is to provide as many innings for the bloated pitching staff as possible.

Gee not reading too much into spring starts

MIA@NYM: Dillon Gee discusses his outing vs. Marlins

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Last spring, right-hander Dillon Gee performed so poorly that he hit two batters and threw three wild pitches in a single game. By the end of the Grapefruit League schedule, his ERA was 5.87. And although he took that into the early part of the regular season, he recovered to enjoy the finest campaign of his career.

Because of that, he is not reading too much into the modest improvements he has displayed this spring. He gave up one run over 2 1/3 innings on Wednesday in his first Grapefruit League start, keeping him on track -- most likely -- to start the third game of the season.

"What I got from last spring is that it isn't going to foreshadow how the season's going to play out at all," Gee said. "Just because you feel good in Spring Training doesn't mean you'll feel good in the season. You try to get things ironed out here, but it's continual work."

Because Gee is more of a command pitcher than a power arm, that work revolves around repeating his mechanics and hitting specific spots within the strike zone. If he can do that consistently by the end of March, he knows, he will be ready for the regular season.

"As of right now, I feel good compared to where I was last year at this point," he said. "At least I'm throwing strikes right now. If I can throw strikes, I can go out there and compete no matter how I feel."

Worth noting

Jose Valverde, who pitched a perfect inning in Wednesday's split-squad loss to the Marlins, pays no attention to the perception that he has a leg up on the other bullpen competitors.

"I try to compete like a Minor League guy, always," said Valverde, an 11-year veteran. "All my life I've looked at Spring Training like I've never played in the big leagues."

Rick Ankiel, the pitcher-turned-outfielder who appeared in 20 games with the Mets last season, has reportedly retired. Ankiel's departure from the Mets last June paved the way for Juan Lagares to receive regular playing time in center field, where he developed into one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.