KANSAS CITY -- How will the Mets, a surprise contender in the NL East, cope with Dillon Gee's absence to start the second half following his unexpected shoulder surgery?
For now, manager Terry Collins says, Miguel Batista will move into a rotation that, post-All-Star break, will go Chris Young, R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana (assuming no ill effects from his twisted ankle), Jonathan Niese and Batista.
Collins allowed for the chance that prospect Matt Harvey, the Mets' first-round pick in 2011 and currently the ace of the staff at Triple-A Buffalo, could be called upon if the club deems him ready.
"We're in the hunt," Collins said in the National League clubhouse Tuesday at the All-Star Game. "We've got to make sure he's going to help us. This is not the time to take a flier.
"If he pitches well enough and people think he can compete, then he might be one of the guys."
The blood clot in Gee's shoulder came as a shock to the Mets. He started Saturday's game against the Cubs and finally, after eight innings and one run, wound up telling the club that his hand was numb.
"I tip my cap to him," Collins said. "We've got a big hole to fill."
Collins added: "It was very shocking. One thing we said at the beginning of the year was, we've got to keep our rotation intact. We lost Pelf [Mike Pelfrey, out for the season with an elbow injury], but we had Chris Young coming back."
Now, they're down to Batista, who has pitched well -- and whom the Mets really prefer -- in the long relief role. Batista is 1-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 26 appearances this season -- 22 in relief, four starts.