PHOENIX -- Mets manager Terry Collins gave Mike Baxter his second start in right field on Saturday, in part, because he was curious to see what the rookie has to offer. He also did it because he likes to have Scott Hairston lurking on the bench.
"This guy has gotten nothing but huge hits off the bench," Collins said of Hairston, who is tentatively scheduled to start in right field on Sunday. "I know that everybody likes to play, but it's nice to have that piece of the puzzle that's over there, and you can insert it when you need a big hit."
Young players such as Baxter, Collins said, do not typically possess the same pinch-hitting aptitude as their veteran teammates, because preparing body and mind for a mid-game assignment is a learned skill. To that end, Baxter has already begun picking the brains of Hairston and fellow veteran Willie Harris, asking what he can do to better prepare for his pinch-hit opportunities.
Though sporadic starts should continue to come for Baxter throughout August and September, the bulk of his at-bats may come as a left-handed pinch-hitter late in games.
"I've always kind of been prepared for when I got to the big leagues, I was going to be in a role like this," Baxter said. "That's kind of how you break into the league, unless you're a young prospect. So I've been ready for that."
Gee may have answer to recent struggles
PHOENIX -- Not long after the D-backs put the finishing touches on Friday evening's victory over the Mets, Dillon Gee sat alone in the visiting clubhouse watching video of his start. Gee skimmed over the bad parts, not wanting to harp on the negatives. He paid extra attention to his final three innings, in which he thrived.
"I've lost confidence the last couple weeks," Gee said. "And I've got to gain it back."
That process involves comparing his mechanics now to his form over his first 13 appearances, in which he was 7-0 with a 2.86 ERA. Though there is still plenty of time for Gee to finish this season on a successful note, he must first figure out what he is doing wrong.
Watching video following his start, Gee feels he may have touched on something significant. A mechanical inconsistency had been causing his shoulder to fly open, affecting the command of his two-seam fastball. By the middle innings, that inconsistency had disappeared, resulting in better command and better results.
"Sometimes, the way I see things is a lot different than it really looks in real life," Gee said. "As a pitcher, you throw a lot of pitches that you think are right there. Then, when you look on video, they weren't."
Over the past few weeks, Gee has been watching more video than usual, replaying many of his strong starts from May and early June. The goal, of course, is to solidify his standing as a lock for the rotation heading into next season.
"The easiest thing to do is sit here and beat yourself up," Gee said. "Everybody goes through struggles. It's the people that can come out of it that succeed."
Turner gets another night off
PHOENIX -- Mets second baseman Justin Turner sat out a second straight game on Saturday to nurse a medley of injuries, but is expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday.
"I think he'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said.
In addition to being hit on the toe with a pitch in Thursday's game, Turner is nursing a sore right hip flexor that he first injured last month, prompting this weekend's two-game furlough. Collins also plans to rest his second baseman at least once next week.