Dillon Gee given special cream

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets right-hander Dillon Gee will have nitroglycerine cream nearby in the cold weather in New York just in case, but he believes his surgically addressed circulation issues are mostly behind him.

Gee underwent season-ending surgery during last year's All-Star break to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder that had left his entire right arm numb.

He began throwing off a mound at Citi Field in mid-September before shutting down for the offseason. He resumed throwing off a mound about two weeks ago, although not yet at full strength.

Gee expects no recurrence of the issue going forward. He visited the doctor who performed his surgery last Thursday in St. Louis and was given a mostly clean bill of health.

"I had a couple of more tests, and they said I'm good to go," Gee said Thursday at the Mets' spring training complex, where he worked out four days before the official report date for pitchers and catchers. "Everything was normal."

Gee still gets numbness in his fingertips in cold weather, which could affect him in New York in April. But he believes he can work through it by keeping his hand in a pocket with a heat pack while the Mets are batting.

He also has an ointment provided by the doctor just in case.

"Let's say if it's less than 35 degrees and I'm outside for much more than 30 minutes without gloves on, then my fingers will still go numb," Gee said. "But that's actually getting better, too. I mean, right after the surgery, they would go numb if it was 50 degrees outside. Over time it'll keep getting better, but that's going to take a while. My fingertips were damaged pretty badly because of all the blood clots I've been throwing through all the years. But it's definitely way, way better."

His last line of defense in the cold sounds more dangerous than it is.

"I have a nitroglycerine cream that I can rub on my fingers, and it's supposed to dilate the blood vessels and make it where the blood actually gets down there better," Gee said. "But I hunted this offseason and it was like 20 degrees. I just kept my hand in my pocket with a hot pack on it and it was fine."

Throwing off a mound in September was Gee's call, not a medical decision.

"I wanted peace of mind going into the offseason that I didn't have anything to worry about and that I would just have a normal offseason," he said.

As for his activity now, he added: "I'm actually probably a little bit farther ahead than I'd normally be. Normally I don't even touch the mound until spring training. That's why I come early. I started about two weeks earlier this year just because I had so much time off last year."

Gee, slated to be the fifth starter, knows he'll have to perform -- or he'll be looking over his surgically repaired shoulder. Top prospect Zack Wheeler should make his debut by the summer, and someone could get bounced from the rotation at that point.

The Mets' early-season rotation is projected to include Johan Santana as the Opening Day starter, along with Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Shaun Marcum and Gee.

"There's never security. You know that," said Gee, who went 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA in 17 starts last season. "I feel like I've done a decent job. I feel like I'm getting better, and was getting better last year. I thought I was really coming into my own. I'm getting more comfortable learning the process and I feel like I'm going to be better than I was last year.

"But I don't want to say there's ever security. You look at these guys coming up behind you and you've got to go out there and do your job and prove that you belong."