TORONTO -- Dustin McGowan will make his first start in more than three years when the Blue Jays host the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.
McGowan was named the club's upcoming starter on Thursday -- two days after a strong performance out of the bullpen. The native of Savannah, Ga., will be allowed to throw approximately 80-85 pitches.
The game will mark McGowan's first start since July 2008, after spending more than three years on the disabled list with a variety of shoulder injuries.
"The primary goal is to get him through this year healthy," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Continue to build some pitching backlog, for the sake of a better way to describe it. Starting Sunday and going forward he will be in the rotation."
McGowan officially made his return to the Majors on Tuesday by tossing four-plus innings against the Red Sox. He surrendered three runs, but the club was excited by his mid-90s velocity and impressive slider-changeup combination.
The 29-year-old will be on a strict pitch limit for the rest of the season, but his chance to start provides Toronto with an opportunity to evaluate just how far he has come this season.
"This is ongoing ... hopefully by the end of September we've got a little bit more knowledge than we do right now," Farrell said. "I'm sure that as he goes through a normal offseason, which his body will certainly be ready for, you'd like to think there will be some additional strength gains throughout the course of the offseason."
McGowan made 12 rehab starts for Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire this season. He allowed 11 earned runs on 31 hits while striking out 35 in 19 2/3 innings.
One of the right-hander's biggest obstacles was being able to pitch at 100 percent capacity without the fear of re-injuring his surgically repaired rotator cuff. That was an ongoing process all season, and another positive move along the way occurred against Boston.
"I think the other night was a major step in that direction," Farrell said. "I'm sure there will be a higher level of confidence once he completes the remainder of this season -- provided that there are no abnormal feelings physically that he has coming out of given starts. As much as we want to know what the end result will be, we can't rush it until we get there."
McGowan is 20-22 with a 4.73 ERA in 76 career games in the Major Leagues. His best year came in 2007, when he went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA over 27 starts.
Rasmus takes BP; rehab stint upcoming
TORONTO -- Center fielder Colby Rasmus went through on-field batting practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a wrist injury.
Rasmus has been out since Aug. 23 with a jammed right wrist. He suffered the injury while crashing into the wall in center field during a game against the Royals.
The 25-year-old began hitting off a tee earlier in the week, but Thursday marked his first time with live pitching. That activity will continue for the next two to three days before he likely joins one of Toronto's Minor League teams in the playoffs for a brief rehab stint.
"Any time we've got a guy that is transitioning back to on-field activity, we've got to go through some steps," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "To get him some at-bats in a rehab setting would be ideal. The fact is he has progressed to this point, so we're moving in the right direction."
The stint in the Minors wouldn't last long. It would be expected to just be for two games to get Rasmus back into the flow of stepping into the batter's box against opposing pitchers.
"The way he is feeling physically in the wrist, he feels like the strength is there," Farrell said. "That's the normal progression I think at that point.
"Whether it's a couple of games, just to see some live pitching again before getting back into the lineup here, would be very helpful for him."
Rasmus is hitting .216 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 23 games for the Blue Jays this season.
Blue Jays hope Morrow can get past struggles
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays continue to search for solutions to right-hander Brandon Morrow's recent string of bad outings.
Toronto's No. 2 starter allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings on Wednesday night against Boston. He is now 1-5 with a 6.59 ERA in his past seven starts, and hasn't won since Aug. 17 in Seattle.
Morrow talked after the Red Sox start about most of his problems originating from an inability to locate his fastball on the first-base side of home plate. His pitches have occasionally turned back into the middle, which has ended in the negative outcomes.
"When the ball leaks back, when you're going to the glove side, typically your body is ahead of your arm just enough for your arm to drag," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Whether that's because of the time of the year, whether that's with fatigue as being part of a factor -- that you don't have the ability to muscle through and catch up to that spot in your delivery to execute that location -- [is uncertain]."
Morrow has currently pitched 153 innings on the season, which is 6 2/3 more than his previous career high. The native of California said he feels fine physically, but even if fatigue is becoming an issue, one of Toronto's goals is to have Morrow work through it.
The Blue Jays would like to get him over the 170-180-inning limit to use as a stepping stone for the 2012 season. That means Morrow will have to find ways to become successful even if he doesn't have his best stuff on the mound.
"If on a day when you've got maybe not your best velocity, then you have to incorporate other pitches to make that velocity you have on a given day equally effective," Farrell said.
"That's not to say you're going to shy away from the use of your fastball. But reading swings, having a feel for what your body has on a given day, and in certain situations, if you've got to minimize the damage then you go to the area you can attack most readily."
First baseman Adam Lind is expected to be back in the Blue Jays' lineup on Friday. He missed the past two games because of soreness in his right wrist. ... Right-hander Shawn Camp entered play on Thursday with a win in each of the Blue Jays' past three victories. He became the first Toronto player to accomplish the feat since John Frascatore in 1999.