DUNEDIN, Fla. — Dustin McGowan is facing another obstacle in his star-crossed quest to continue his big-league pitching career.
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Wednesday that the 30-year-old right-hander “came up a little lame,” after a flat-ground throwing session a day earlier and won’t be getting back on a mound any time soon.
“The shoulder was barking a little bit, so he’s kind of on the back-burner again,” said Gibbons. “He’s going to do everything, but he’s not going to be on the mound. It’s another little setback.”
McGowan is working his way back from a third shoulder surgery last summer, a procedure that came mere months after it appeared he was through his injury woes and on the verge of breaking camp in the rotation.
Hopes were high for him after he closed out the 2011 season with an impressive 21 innings over five appearances and signed a US$3-million, two-year extension. The outings were his first in the majors since blowing out his shoulder in 2008, but his return to health was short-lived.
McGowan will continue with “a little throwing program,” said Gibbons, “but he’s not going to get back on a mound.”
“It’s nothing major but with all he’s been through and his history, we’ll be cautious,” added Gibbons. “Right now we really don’t need him the way we’re set up, but as the season goes on, you never know.”
FIRST BULLPENS: Newcomers R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Esmil Rogers were among the pitchers to throw bullpens Wednesday during the club’s first official workout for pitchers and catchers, while relievers Sergio Santos and Casey Janssen, both coming off shoulder surgery, also did side sessions.
Santos had already thrown off the mound a handful of times previously, and he appeared to be holding nothing back, popping the catcher’s mitt several times with his fastball.
“That’s his personality, he’s gung-ho,” said Gibbons. “An ex-position player, a lot of those guys are like that. But that’s what is going to help him in the bullpen, those guys that attack, they only know one speed and they come at you.”
KNUCKLING UP: R.A. Dickey’s side session drew a crowd of coaches and players, each wanting to see the right-hander make his knuckleball dance.
His session also meant having J.P. Arencibia behind the plate, in preparation for a likely pairing during the World Baseball Classic.
“I thought he looked good,” Gibbons said of Arencibia. “He’s going to go to the WBC with him so he needs to catch him now. Those other guys will get in there, but for right now until they leave, he’s going to be the primary guy. In all fairness to him, if he ends up catching him out there, you don’t want him naked, I guess you could say.”
Aside from some extra prep work with Dickey, which he would likely have done anyway, Arencibia hasn’t done much else out of his normal routine in preparation for his stint with the American team.
Asked about the main challenges of playing in the Classic, Arencibia replied: “The hardest thing is there’s a combination of wanting to win, wanting to get your work in and then wanting to adjust to the season.
In spring training, you can go 0-for-4 and strike out four times and know you’re working on something. The WBC is a little different, you’re trying to do some damage and help out, whatever you need to do.”
Arencibia and Dickey are among five Blue Jays headed to the Classic.
Melky Cabrera and Esmil Rogers turned down invitations from the Dominican Republic, while Henry Blanco said no to Venezuela with the country set at catcher with Miguel Montero and Salvador Perez.