McGowan on road to recovery
Coming off shoulder surgery, he will ease back into action
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dustin McGowan just wanted to make sure that the discomfort he was feeling in his right shoulder was nothing to worry about. That's why the Blue Jays pitcher checked in with Dr. Timothy Kremchek on Sunday.
Kremcheck, who performed surgery to repair fraying of the labrum in McGowan's shoulder in July, told the right-hander that the fatigue he was experiencing was normal. Hearing that from the doctor brought a huge sense of relief for the rehabbing pitcher.
"Definitely," McGowan said on Wednesday. "That was my main priority. I wanted to see him and get his hands on me just to make sure he liked what he saw. He said the strength looked good and everything looked good. I'm ready to get this process over."
The reality is that the rehabilitation process is going to take much longer for McGowan. The Blue Jays don't want to rush him back to the mound, especially in a season during which the club plans on handing innings to some of its untested pitching prospects. That's one reason why Toronto has backed off its original projection of possibly having McGowan back by May.
"Early in the spring, we said don't look at May," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It might be longer than that. We just kind of put him on the back burner and hope that he can come back, whether it's June or July or even next year. We just hope that he can get that shoulder back together and be able to pitch again. Right now, I can't tell you when."
McGowan, who went 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 19 starts in 2008, would love nothing more than to pitch for the Jays again this season. Under the circumstances, though, he plans on listening to his doctor and Toronto's medical staff. That includes slowing down with his throwing program for now.
McGowan, 26, said he might have been pushing himself too hard this spring after resting for such a long period following the surgery he had on July 31. He described what he felt in his arm recently more as fatigue, rather than the overwhelming pain he experienced prior to his operation.
"Before, it was a straight sharp pain and I couldn't do anything," McGowan said. "After a while, pitching hurt so bad. This is just more of kind of a weak feeling, because I hadn't done anything in so long. I kind of felt like I tried to push myself a little too hard throwing already, so I needed to back off just a hair.
"I want to get back to playing, but I've got to be smart. I've got to do it the right way so I can avoid injury again and not go through this again."
The Blue Jays are also keeping a close eye on right-hander Shaun Marcum, who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on his throwing arm in September. Marcum isn't in the plans until 2010, but his early progress has stirred some talk that he could be ready to return by August or September.
"You talk to Marcum, he would pitch right now if you let him," Gaston said with a laugh. "We have to slow him down a little bit, too. I actually spoke to him this morning. I told him, 'Remember, you're pitching next year -- not this year.'"
The training room: Center fielder Vernon Wells tested out his sore left hamstring with more running drills on Wednesday and said he "felt good." Wells said he'll likely begin playing games in roughly a week. ... Utilityman Russ Adams left Tuesday's game against the Rays with a left quadriceps injury. Gaston said Adams might be held out of the lineup through Friday or Saturday, but the injury isn't considered serious. ... Right-hander Brian Wolfe, who felt a pop in his throwing shoulder in his brief outing against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, underwent an MRI exam on his arm Wednesday afternoon. Gaston said the results showed no structural damage, but Wolfe did have some inflammation in his shoulder.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.