Dillon Gee finally is able to cut through all the red, er, black tape.
That would be the elastic kinesiology tape he has been wearing around his back and shoulder while recovering from a strained lateral muscle that sidelined him for two months.
The Mets have cleared Gee to return and the righthander will pitch Wednesday against the Braves, making his first start since May 10.
"I'm sure I'll be pretty anxious and there will probably even be some nerves," Gee said. "It's going to be like a whole new season for me."
Actually, it will be the continuation of what has been his best major-league season. Gee, the Mets' Opening Day starter, is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in eight starts.
He said the injury "crept up" on him and he still can't pinpoint how or when it occurred. Gee said he woke up after his last start with pain in the right side of his back that worsened throughout the day and became unbearable. He was placed on the disabled list May 11.
"It [stunk] and it was a huge disappointment," Gee, 28, said of the injury that interrupted a potential career year. He missed the second half of the 2012 season after surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder but returned to make 32 starts last year. "You never want to miss time and it's definitely tough being away from the team, but I'm glad I'm healthy."
He will be limited to "90 to 95 pitches, tops" Wednesday, manager Terry Collins said.
Pitching has been the Mets' strength this season -- their 3.61 ERA coming into Monday night's game ranked 10th in the majors -- but Gee's return comes at a good time. He will take Jonathon Niese's spot in the rotation after the lefthander was put on the 15-day DL on Sunday with a shoulder strain.
Gee, who says he has fully recovered, was effective in his rehab assignments. He allowed a run and three hits and struck out 10 in six innings Friday for Class A Brooklyn, throwing 51 of his 75 pitches for strikes. In the outing before that with Brooklyn, he fanned six in 22/3 innings.
Collins said that aside from the limited pitch count -- which "will take a couple starts" to build up -- he expects Gee to be effective despite all the missed time.
"It sounds like he's pretty close to being himself," Collins said. "His big pitch is his changeup and it was working very well for him [in Brooklyn]. If the command and his changeup are there, I think he'll be himself."
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