This past season was a bittersweet one for major league pitcher Dustin McGowan of Long County. The right-hander began the year entrenched in the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation, but in July he re-injured his right shoulder, ending his season.
McGowan tore his right rotator cuff slightly in 2007, but was able to work through the injury. During the first part of the 2008 season, however, the tear started to aggravate him and progressively got worse.
"… Last season it got to where the pain was there in every pitch I threw," McGowan said from his offseason home in Ludowici.
"I took anti-inflammatory shots to try to continue pitching but then in July, when I had to pull myself (from a game), the pain got worse and worse. I wasn’t able to pitch."
In late July, the 26-year-old had surgery for a torn right labrum in Cincinnati. Fortunately for him, the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
"Well, it wasn’t reconstructive surgery, and that was good," McGowan said. "The doctor basically cleaned up around the tear, and then I was given PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections."
McGowan said that since the surgery, he has had to go through a full rehab regiment to strengthen the shoulder and give his arm a full range of motion.
This past Monday, McGowan was in Savannah to see his trainer and specialist as he threw a baseball for the first time since the surgery.
"The shoulder feels normal now, like I never had any surgery," McGowan said.
He said that he and his family will travel to Dunedin, Fla., at the end of February to preparation for the start of spring training. McGowan said he can’t wait to get back on a mound for the first time in months.
"The team is saying that I’m ahead of schedule on being ready to pitch, but they also are saying that they want me to take it easy during spring training," McGowan said. They want to build me back up slowly."
The 2009 season will begin April 1 for the Blue Jays. McGowan was listed as Toronto’s No. 2 starter last year, but since then, the Jays have lost No. 1 starter A.J. Burnett, who signed with the New York Yankees.
When asked if he thinks he will be ready for an Opening-Day start, McGowan said, "I’m going into the season preparing myself to be ready on Opening Day, but from what I’m being told, the team is leaning toward me pitching in May.
"Everyone will know more once spring training begins."
In 2008, McGowan went 6-7 and compiled a 4.37 ERA in 19 starts. He pitched in 112 innings, giving up 115 hits, 38 walks and 54 earned runs. He also struck out 85 batters.
When asked if he had any individual goals for this coming season, McGowan said, "Stay healthy. That’s the only goal right now."