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McGowan starts Triple-A game in Dunedin, Fla.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and Long County native Dustin McGowan prepares to throw out a pitch. - photo by Photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays

On March 19, Long County’s Dustin McGowan got his first start since he left a July 8, 2008, game with a right shoulder injury.

McGowan took center stage in a start for the Jays Triple-A team in Dunedin, Fla., but was only able to go one and two-thirds innings, throwing 36 pitches. While on the mound, McGowan struck out one batter, walked two and gave up two hits.

The pitcher has been rehabbing his inured shoulder and appeared to struggle with reaching the velocity he had on his fastball in the past. According to a Toronto Blue Jay report posted March 19, his fastest pitch on Friday was 88 mph. In the past, the Ludowici native’s heat usually came in around the 95 mph mark.

After the session, McGowan said he felt fine health-wise, but as a result of all of the rehab and from the increased pitching, he was fatigued.

"I’m throwing every five days again. It’s been a year and a half, so it’s just worn down right now," McGowan said in the report.

He has been in Florida for several months working on his comeback for the 2010 season, but McGowan said he realizes he probably won’t be with the club to start the season.

"I pretty much knew the situation coming in — it was an uphill battle anyway. I can live with that," he said Friday.

Though it does appear that McGowan won’t be active on opening day, Jays manager Cito Gaston said he’s not worried about that.

"If we can get him back a month into the season or whenever we can get him back this year, it’ll be great one way or another," he said in the report.

Gaston also revealed the opening day starter for the club. According to the manager, Shawn Marcum will have that honor as the team takes on the Texas Rangers on April 5. With Marcum, the Blue Jays appear to have an ace ready to take over and lead the team.

However, after Marcum, the team has questions regarding the next four possible starters. The quartet expected to follow Macum are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepezynski and Brian Tallet. The four have potential, but the verdict is still out because they have only 86 starts between them. With their limited experience as starters, and with McGowan having 56 starts under his belt, the local favorite is still optimistic he’ll get back in that rotation.

McGowan will likely get a chance to show his stuff later this week in another Triple-A game.

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