Jays not rushing McGowan

Dustin McGowan was pitching to major league hitters yesterday for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Dustin McGowan was pitching to major league hitters yesterday for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Having him make Toronto’s opening-day roster is not a priority for the Blue Jays — and it shouldn’t be for McGowan, either.

“We’ve talked to him about it. That date is non-existent for us with him,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.

“If it happens to fall on that date, great. If it happens a week later, that’s fine as well, even three months after that.

“This is a young guy who certainly has a great chance to be part of this organization for a long time and we want to make sure we get it right and not take any chances.”

The 27-year-old last pitched on July 8, 2008, and was removed early in a game against Baltimore with a sore right shoulder.

Two days later he went on the disabled list and underwent surgery July 31 to repair fraying of the labrum.

It finished him for that season and last year’s as well.

Then on July 9, 2009, he had surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee, delaying his rehabilitation by about six weeks.

McGowan was scheduled to throw only in the bullpen yesterday, without facing batters. “But I talked with (pitching coach) Bruce Walton,” Anthopoulos said, “and our trainer signed off on it, and Dustin felt good and wanted to throw to hitters. We didn’t have a problem with it.”

McGowan said he threw 25-30 pitches in the bullpen and about 20 to batters.

“Actually, to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous all last night,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to expect. But we didn’t call any inside pitches. I was just trying to get a feel for pitching again and just finding the plate.

“The important thing is that I got to do it and everything felt good.

“I enjoyed it, having fun again.”

 
 
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