The story of Dustin McGowan is a rather amazing, harrowing (in outside-the-real-world millionaires-playing-sports terms), and at the moment, an uplifting one. And it’s one that I don’t want to be the guy constantly throwing cold water on. But at the same time, it’s a ridiculously cautious optimism I have– if you can even call it optimism– for the possibility that McGowan will show up as a 29-year-old and pick up anywhere close to where he left off in 2007.
That said, the early– very early– reports on him are glowing.
“In the early days of spring training, John Farrell has been careful not to praise his pitchers after a short mound session against batters who behave like statues,” writes John Lott in the National Post. “But on Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays manager could not hold his reserve. It was a hot day and maybe the sunshine was getting to him. But Farrell had also just watched Dustin McGowan throw 25 pitches to five teammates, some of whom muttered about the filth the big right-hander was serving up.”
“The right-hander, catching people’s eye with his command and stuff, dazzled teammates Adam Lind, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar with his slider and changeup, each of them taking turns walking out of the cage shaking his head,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
“The fact that he was down in the strike zone, with the kind of power he had, with the heaviness to his fastball, the action to his secondary stuff – he was impressive today, there’s no doubt,” John Farrell said, as quoted by both pieces.
Of course, Farrell said earlier in the winter that he doesn’t anticipate seeing McGowan going beyond 140 or 150 innings this season– itself a wildly optimistic suggestion, I think. They’ve started out being cautious, with McGowan working every three days right now, instead of every other day, as the rest of his fellow pitchers are. But the Jays, if we can take any impressions they’re giving us seriously (which we probably can’t), seem to think that having a proper off-season for once– as opposed to what Lott calls last year’s “ambitious rehab program that saw him throwing in earnest for almost 11 consecutive months– is going to help.
“He’s having a very good camp. It’s just great to see that after a normal off-season that he’s come back in and probably felt better about himself physically, and I think it’s showing up in the way he’s throwing the baseball,” Farrell said.
“It felt like me,” McGowan added. It’s easy to get carried away at this stage but, shit, let’s hope it keeps up.