According to MLB.com, Long County native Dustin McGowan received the OK last week to pursue a spot in the 2014 starting-pitching rotation for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I have been (preparing) all winter as a starter, but I wasn’t sure until recently if it was going to happen or not,” McGowan said. “Now that I’ve gotten the OK to try it, I’ve been doing it a little more … There’s not much difference — I still do the same workouts, it’s just a little bit more running now to try to be able to last a little bit longer in the game.”
After little action since 2008 due to several injuries and surgeries, McGowan made it back to the mound June 8, 2013, as a relief pitcher.
Last year, he pitched in 25 games for the Blue Jays, posting a 2.45 earned-run average in 25 2/3rd innings. But on July 29, his comeback ended when he strained his right oblique against the Oakland Athletics.
The setback was one of many in his career, including surgeries on his shoulder, elbow and knee.
He also has lost time due to having plantar fasciitis, which is pain along the bottom of a foot.
In the recent MLB.com report, McGowan said, “When I was pitching out of the bullpen, that was the first time I’ve stayed strong and felt good, pretty much, kind of the whole season.” Though McGowan has been given the clearance to pursue a spot in the rotation, he said that the team is continuing to bring him along slowly, and he is OK with that.
McGowan, who turns 32 in March, was drafted in the first round of the amateur draft by the Blue Jays on June 4, 2000. As an MLB pitcher, he has a record of 20 wins and 24 losses with an ERA of 4.65.
In the majors, he has pitched in 105 games, struck out 331 batters, walked 166 and given up 38 home runs.
McGowan will seek to help Toronto bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season.
After trading for National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and signing All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera, there was a lot of optimism in Toronto.
However, the club finished 74-88, 23 games behind American League East winner and eventual World Series champion Boston.
Toronto’s first regular season game of 2014 is March 31 against the Devil Rays in Tampa.