Royals pitcher Dillon Gee will undergo thoracic outlet syndrome surgery

Dillon Gee
Dillon Gee

One week after doctors discovered blood clots in his right shoulder and lungs, Dillon Gee said he will become the latest Royals pitcher to undergo surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, a neurogenic condition caused by the compression of nerves near the neck and shoulder.

The news came on Sunday morning, as Gee returned to the Royals clubhouse after seeing specialist Robert Thompson in St. Louis earlier this week. Gee announced Friday that doctors were able to eliminate a blood clot in the subclavian vein in his shoulder.

He is now set to undergo a scalenectomy, a procedure that divides or removes a portion of the scalene muscle in the front of the neck, and removes a rib near the right shoulder. It’s the same procedure that reliever Luke Hochevar had in early August. Top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer also had an operation to address thoracic outlet syndrome earlier this summer.

In his first season with the Royals, Gee, 30, posted a 4.68 ERA in 125 innings, including 14 starts. The right-hander is entering his final arbitration-eligible season and is under club control through 2017.

One week after the scary incident in Detroit, Gee appeared in good spirits on Sunday, sauntering into the Royals’ clubhouse in street clothes. A week ago, he stood inside the visitors clubhouse at Comerica Park and could barely breathe. For the next two days, he stayed at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and underwent tests. Later in the week, he traveled to St. Louis.

He said Thompson, a doctor who specializes in thoracic outlet syndrome, offered a positive prognosis.

“He feels good about it,” Gee said. “He made me feel better about the whole situation. So hopefully, it all works out. He thinks I’ll be fine.”

Gee said he was hopeful he would be healthy by the beginning of spring training. The usual recovery time for the surgery is four to six months.

“I talked to the trainers, (and) they said: ‘Being ready for spring training might be a little aggressive.’ You just never know. Obviously, we’re going to take our time and just get it right.”

Gee previously dealt with a blood clot in his shoulder in 2012, when he was pitching for the New York Mets. But the two issues, Gee said, were not necessarily connected. Four years ago, Gee dealt with an “arterial” issue. This time, the blood clot was in the vein.

“We’ve done all the blood tests that you’re supposed to do to see if you have a clotting disorder or problem, and everything has been fine,” Gee said, before adding: “This one felt a lot more serious, because I couldn’t breathe.”