Righthander Dustin McGowan, who has seemingly been on the 60-day DL for most of this Century, was sent on a 30-day Minor League rehab assignment yesterday, and was placed on the roster of the High A Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League.
The oft-injured former first round (2000) draft pick pitched in his first professional game since September of 2011 last night, and came in from the bullpen in the 7th inning, striking out the side and giving up one hit.
The D-Jays topped the high-flying Fort Myers Miracle 9-3 in a showdown of division leaders.
McGowan's medical history, of course, is voluminous to say the least. After missing the 2009 and 2010 seasons due to surgery and complications that followed, McGowan returned to the Jays in the fall of 2011, and was moderately impressive in 4 starts, and appeared to be in the running for a job either at the back end of the rotation or in long relief the following spring. He developed plantar fasciitis in the spring of 2012, however, and then developed more shoulder issues as he tried to compensate with his delivery.
This spring, after being held back in spring training, McGowan was kept in EST after training camp ended. He became a devotee of Steve Delabar's legendary heavy ball training regimen, and was pleased with the results. He reported no soreness after throwing as a result of adopting the program. For now, the plan is likely to have him throw out of the D-Jays bullpen. Due to a slew of rainouts, several of their starters are well-rested.
As a result, the Jays decided to put him on the 30-day rehab list. McGowan isn't eligible to come off the 60-day DL until May 30th, meaning that a return to the big leagues is at least half a month away, more likely a month. Jays GM Alex Anthopolous told the National Post's John Lott that he's pleasantly surprised by McGowan's progress: "This is as optimistic as I've been, because it's been quite some time now that he continues to feel great."
Many eyebrows were raised, given McGowan's health, when the Jays signed him to a 2 year, $13 million extension after the 2012 season. The road ahead is very long, but if he continues to hit the mid-90s, that deal will seem like a bargain.