Although Dustin McGowan has been in Dunedin, Fla., for nearly two months now, he and a group of Toronto Blue Jays pitching candidates began spring training earlier this week.
McGowan is a part of a group of 37, which includes 10 non-roster players who hope to become part of the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2010 pitching rotation.
This year’s rotation is wide open because former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay was traded to Philadelphia.
In an Associated Press report, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said, "We’ve got so many pitchers here we need names on their backs."McGowan will try to secure a spot, but it seems the Long County native faces challenges.
The frontrunner for the No. 1 spot is Ricky Romero, who as a rookie last year went 13-9. The left-hander started 29 games last season and ended with 4.30 ERA.
Others in the mix include Shaun Marcum, Brian Tallet, Brandon Morrow and McGowan.
McGowan is out of option years on his contract, so the Jays can’t send him back to the minors without exposing him to waivers. This could help in his quest to become a starter.
In the AP report Gaston said that if the Ludowici right-hander is ready, he won’t hesitate to put McGowan back in the lineup.
"I hope he starts the season (on the roster)," the manager said. "He’s been down here a long time. He’s probably sick of Florida by now. If he’s ready to go, we’re not going to delay it unless it’s going to make him healthier."
McGowan was in the 2008 starting rotation but was put on the disabled list because of injuries to his shoulder and knee. He has a career record of 20 wins and 22 losses with an ERA of 4.71.