McGowan to have shoulder surgery
Right-hander's comeback attempt pushed back to 2011
TORONTO -- As long as the Blue Jays believe Dustin McGowan has a realistic chance of returning to a mound, the team is willing to give the pitcher the time he needs to work through what has already been a long rehabilitation process.
On Monday, Toronto announced that McGowan -- sidelined since July 2008 with various health issues -- is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery performed on his right shoulder by renowned arm specialist Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday. There is no established timetable for McGowan's return to throwing.
"As long as we feel that there's hope that Dustin McGowan can come back," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said, "and our medical team people and our trainers feel that there's still a window and an opportunity for him to come back, I think we'll continue to work toward having him part of the organization and try to get him back healthy and on the field."
After holding meetings with Dr. Andrews and Dr. Steve Mirabello, one of the Blue Jays' team doctors, it was determined that McGowan needed a procedure to increase the range of motion in his throwing shoulder. It is the same shoulder operated on by Dr. Timothy Kremchek on July 31, 2008, in order to repair fraying of the labrum.
Over the better part of the past two years, McGowan has suffered numerous setbacks, including needing left knee surgery in July of last season. This past spring, the 28-year-old right-hander worked his way back to the mound and was attempting to make a run at a spot in the Blue Jays' rotation.
That lofty goal came to a halt when the pitcher began feeling shoulder fatigue midway through March. McGowan began this season on the 60-day disabled list and slowly tackled his throwing program, working up to a live batting practice session on June 14. McGowan was forced to end the workout after just eight pitches with pain in his shoulder.
Anthopoulos had a difficult time classifying the latest surgery as either good or bad news.
"It's hard to say," Anthopoulos said. "I think any time you have surgery it's bad news, but at the same time it's good news in the sense that we had MRIs done and we didn't find anything new. And the fact that after seeing Dr. Andrews and consulting with our team doctor, Steve Mirabello, there was a procedure that could be done that could help him, that's the good news."
With his last big league appearance coming on July 8, 2008, McGowan hoped to make a push toward Toronto's rotation at some point this season. A first-round pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, McGowan won 12 games for the Jays in 2007 and is 20-22 with a 4.75 ERA in 75 career Major League games.
Anthopoulos said it was far too early to guess when McGowan might see the big leagues again.
"Certainly, 2011 would be the earliest," Anthopoulos said, "and we really don't know when that might be. It could be the beginning. It could be the end. It could be 2012. Until we have more information, until the surgery gets done and they do examine the shoulder further, then we'll have a more definitive timetable."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.