No quit in Dustin McGowan
By Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan is nursing a foot injury, a minor setback which shouldn't keep him out of the lineup for long. (REUTERS)
He is the feel good story of the camp but now Dustin McGowan has to go out and earn his paycheque.
The plantar fasciitis that is bothering his right foot remains and the big right-hander is still listed as day-to-day as to when he can start throwing on flat ground much less when he will be able to get back up on the mound for bullpen sessions and following that be able to get back into a spring training game.
“It’s all right, it’s just a foot,” McGowan said about his current problem which drew laughs from all assembled. “It’s getting better and will continue to get better. I’m going to take another day off just to have it rest up. Who knows? I’ll give it another day or two and see from there.”
Friday was his next scheduled day to pitch and that is out the window and with just a week remaining before the Blue Jays depart for Cleveland it appears doubtful he will get to air it out in another spring game.
Another stint on the disabled list is looming and if he misses a start or two at the beginning of the regular season, so be it.
What was surprising in Tuesday’s gabfest with general manager Alex Anthopoulos and McGowan regarding his contract extension was how the GM was open-ended about how much wear and tear his injured pitcher will be put through when he finally gets back in major-league games.
It was generally assumed McGowan would be restricted to around 120 innings given all his shoulder problems that limited him to half a season in 2008, had him miss all of 2009 and 2010 and only allowed him to return to the big leagues Sept. 6 of last year. Everyone figured he’d be taking baby steps.
But that may not be the case. The Jays aren’t about to work him like a rented mule, but close. Anthopoulos mentioned several times about “building him” up but once he’s out and pitching there doesn’t appear to be any set innings number or date as to when he will be shut down this season.
“I think it’s different with him just because of his health,” the GM said. “It’s something where we haven’t been down that road. So I’m not exactly sure. We know that because of his past health we have to be careful and monitor his health start to start.
“But if he feels unbelievable the entire year and there’s never any concerns, I guess you’d never say never that he couldn’t go a full season. But we’re not going to put a cap (innings number) on it that way. We’re going to let it evolve as the year moves along.
“I don’t want to put the restriction on him. I don’t want him going into the season thinking: ‘Well, I’ve only got three starts left and so many innings.’ There will come a point in time where we’ll evaluate how he feels. If he needs to be backed off, we’ll adjust accordingly. If he feels unbelievable and there’s no issues at all, he’ll continue to go.”
McGowan doesn’t have an innings number in his mind either.
“I want to pitch,” he simply stated. “I’m not going to worry about my shoulder, I’m just going to worry about how I feel. Like Alex said we’ll see a few months from now how things are going and how strong I still am.
“I think it’s too early to say how many innings I am going to pitch because we don’t know yet.”
Right now the only things for sure are that he feels good about where he’s at — with his shoulder, with his team, with his new contract. The foot is thought of as being a minor irritant and nothing more.
McGowan will take the ball when he can and give the Jays his all.
Both sides know that.
They also know that he can take a good punch and refuses to be knocked down.
MCGOWAN’S STINTS ON THE DISABLED LIST
* May 13-Sept. 20, 2004 — right elbow soreness, underwent Tommy John surgery
* July 9 2008 for remainder of the season — right shoulder soreness, underwent surgery on his labrum
* Out for the 2009 season — torn right labrum, also had cartilage surgery on right knee
* Out for the 2010 season — right shoulder strain, underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff
* March 12 - Sept. 4 — recovery from right shoulder surgery