DUNEDIN, Fla. — Dustin McGowan’s days as a starter are over.
The oft-injured right-hander, who is attempting to come back following surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, was placed on the 60-day disabled list Saturday and Sunday manager John Farrell announced that the plan now is to try to bring him back as a reliever.
Whether McGowan, who has not pitched since July of 2008, will ever pitch again is still in question, but if he does make it back he’ll be working out of the bullpen.
“He still has a chance to have a very good ending to a tough road that he’s travelled,” Farrell said. “Medically that’s the advice that we’ve been given, top to bottom. He’s dealing very well with the hand he’s been dealt and he’s an inspiration for everybody in that clubhouse.”
The thinking is that the wear and tear of the number of pitches thrown by a starter in any one start puts more stress on the shoulder than a reliever called in for one inning, even if he throws back-to-back days.
“The tough thing about coming back as a reliever if you’re not a closer, it can be rougher on you physically because of the ups and downs and how quick you have to get ready for games,” Farrell said. “The thing is what is the fatigue level when you get to 80 pitches and above (as a starter)? Now you’re looking at a five-inning starting pitcher.
“That’s why we have to bring him back in a role that doesn’t have limitations that affect everybody else on the staff. And he’s in agreement with it. I think more than anything he wants to get back on the mound and compete.”
McGowan has been throwing on the side and has not had any setbacks. The hope is that he can advance as far as being able to get into a minor league game this spring.