Dillon Gee's trail back to baseball is marking his entire body -- from the painfully healing incision that starts mid-thigh and travels up the left side of his groin, to the three puncture wounds on the right side of his groin, to the long cut that streaks across his right biceps to the front of his armpit.
There are some mental scars, too -- the type that come from seeing the scan of a silver dollar-size blood clot in your shoulder and thinking, Gee said, "I'm going to die."
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Doctors quickly convinced him otherwise, he said, and his grim, knee-jerk reaction was substituted Friday by adamant optimism. If the Mets' righthander recovers well from the catheter-aided clot removal and last week's surgery to repair and widen the previously blocked artery, he'll pitch again in six weeks. It's possible the second half of the season isn't completely lost, Gee said, even though that much time off could generally take months to bounce back from, much like a second spring training.
"But if I really, really push it, I'm sure it could be shorter," Gee said. "Once I'm ready to throw, it should be normal. It should be full-bore."
Manager Terry Collins tempered Gee's statements, and said that it would be possible to see Gee on the mound again only if he was 100 percent and if the team was in a pennant race, "but if not, we'll look toward next spring," he said. "I have no timetable."
Gee made his first public clubhouse appearance since experiencing numbness in his arm and hand after pitching eight innings against the Cubs on July 7. All told, he said he spent about a week in hospitals in Manhattan and St. Louis, where he had his shoulder surgery last Friday.
He's currently on blood thinners and pain medication to deal with soreness from the procedures, the last of which included taking part of a vein from the left side of his groin and using it to repair the shrunken artery in his shoulder.
His physical activity is restricted to walking, he said, and he might be able to begin some cardio and lifting after his next checkup in three weeks. Gee said he plans to stay with the team until the end of the six-game homestand.
"It was definitely scary," Gee said of his initial reaction, adding that he'd had temporary hand numbness in the past, but nothing to this extent. "My arm just felt tired and just nothing was there . . . They showed me on the MRI when they first diagnosed it, and you could see the vein and the dye was going down, and then, just about an inch, nothing was there. So I guess it's pretty serious.
"At that moment, that's when I freaked out."