McGowan throwing like his old self
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto Sept. 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)
For anyone watching, Dustin McGowan was impressive facing live hitting for the first time Tuesday. Indeed, he impressed even himself.
“It felt like me,” said McGowan. High praise indeed, considering that McGowan once had the best combination of velocity and breaking pitches on the roster.
Now, after three full seasons recovering from two surgeries, he does look more like himself every day.
“It’s all systems go, but I understand them being a little cautious too,” said McGowan. “If that’s what it takes, I’m all for it.”
Manager John Farrell said McGowan will, as a precaution only, take a little more time building up to his first start, then fall into the staff rotation.
For the first time in four years, McGowan had a normal off-season. He started throwing mid-December and is now able to throw at max-effort.
Last season McGowan actually began throwing in November of 2010 and didn’t end until October 2011 between rehab and, eventually, getting back to the big leagues.
And this past winter?
“It was relaxing,” he said.
Now he faces a competitive training camp. When it’s over, he’ll either be in the Toronto starting rotation or pitching elsewhere. He is out of options and would need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. Given his pedigree, that’s unlikely.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “You come in here and pitch and do your job, you have a chance to make the team. If you get beat out, the better man wins the job. You still gotta go out and pitch.”
“The way he threw the baseball today, it’s great to see that,” said Farrell.
“He was down in the strike zone with power and heaviness to his fastball and the action of his secondary stuff was impressive.”
Farrell did say that if McGowan is in the rotation, his innings total will be monitored.
“When you look at last year, the total number of innings was in the 80’s, I believe,” said the manager. “Even stretching it, you’re probably south of 150, but we’ll see how he goes.”
BATTLE FOR UTILITY ROLE
General manager Alex Anthopoulos says the choice of a utility infielder from three very different candidates will be an interesting decision.
Mike McCoy is the known quantity for the Jays. He has played all over the diamond, even pitching an inning last year but he has options left and still could provide depth at Las Vegas.
Luis Valbuena has a little pop in his bat, having hit 10 home runs when given a steady diet of at-bats in Cleveland three years ago but he’s normally a second baseman.
And then there’s 44-year-old Omar Vizquel, one of the great shortstops of all time. But can he still play?
“For Valbuena, the big test will be how well he plays the left side of the infield,” said Anthopoulos. “Omar, with his experience and everything else he brings, that’s going to help, too. At the end of the day, the primary thing is how well they play, but beyond that, the other components will factor in, too. Again, Omar’s ability is what’s going to have to get him the job.”