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McGowan back in Jays’ starting rotation

Long County native could start Friday vs. Yankees

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POSTED: March 31, 2014 1:45 p.m.

It’s been almost six years since Long County native and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan had to leave the mound after four innings of play against the Baltimore Orioles.
He felt pain prior to that game, but had been fighting through it to continue playing in the club’s starting rotation. But that day, the pain was too much for him to bear and he had to leave the game.
Three weeks later, he had surgery to repair a frayed labrum, ending that season. After several more injures, surgeries, trips up and down from the minors, and a stint last year as a reliever, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Wednesday announced that McGowan would open the 2014 season as the team’s No. 5 starter.
In a story by MLB.com’s Gregory Chisolm,  McGowan said, “I always had the resolve to push through … there’s no quit in my blood. There were times I thought it may not happen anymore, but it wasn’t going to be from a lack of trying. That’s why I kept pushing hard — for moments like this.”
Last year, McGowan earned his way back onto the Toronto roster as a relief pitcher. He embraced his new role with the Blue Jays, which started with his debut June 8. During the season, he pitched in 25 games posting a 2.45 ERA in 25 2/3 innings of play.
But like so many times before, his 2013 season ended on the disabled list as he strained his right oblique against the Oakland Athletics on July 29. Despite his new role in the bullpen, earlier this year McGowan said that he had been preparing all winter as a “starter.”  
In January, McGowan received clearance from the Blue Jays’ top brass to pursue his goal of becoming a starter again.
McGowan has said in the past that many of his injury problems had been as of a result of him continuing to push himself too far when he felt pain in his throwing arm. In Chisolm’s story, the Long County native addressed this concern, saying he had learned from his previous mistakes.
“I don’t want to go through anymore of that stuff, so if there is any kind of discomfort, I’ll know what’s right and what’s not … I’ve been through it enough. I can pretty much know what’s going on, so I can be honest with them,” McGowan said.
In addition to his injuries, McGowan now must face a new challenge, which is different from his comeback attempts in the past.  This new challenge is that Father Time is peeking around the corner.  Though McGowan can still sling his fast ball in the mid-90-mph range, he no longer is the young prospect he was when he was selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2000 draft. At 32 years of age, and after signing a two-year extension with the club in 2012, McGowan now is the longest tenured player in the Toronto organization.  The Blue Jays have an option to retain him in 2015, but if they do, it will cost them $4 million, so the time for McGowan to perform is now.
Toronto plays their first game of the year Monday in Tampa when they take on the Devil Rays. The Blue Jays’ No. 1 starter, former Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, will get the honors to be their Opening Day starter.
As the fifth pitcher in the Toronto rotation, McGowan should be on the mound Friday for his team’s home opener against the New York Yankees.

 

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