The Blue Jays are giving Dustin McGowan one more kick at the can after signing the horribly unlucky pitcher to a one year contract worth $450,000. McGowan has had a worse time with his health than the most delusional of hypochondriacs could imagine.
It all started in 2004, when the top prospect in the Jays organization suffered his first serious injury. Pitching for Double A New Hampshire, McGowan blew out his elbow and required Tommy John Surgery after only his sixth start of the season. Then, while rehabbing, the right hander discovered that he was suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.
Undeterred, he pushed on with his recovery and then spent parts of 2005 and 2006 in Toronto where he ultimately failed to impress. He started 2007 at Triple A Syracuse, but was called up in early May when members of the Blue Jays rotation began suffering from arm shittiness.
He grabbed hold of the opportunity and won a regular place in the rotation. However, McGowan suffered from shoulder pain throughout the next season and spent some time on the Disabled List until it was decided in July that he would undergo season-ending surgery to repair a frayed labrum in his shoulder.
Unfortunately, his recovery from the surgery was slower than expected and McGowan didn’t begin throwing a baseball again until May of 2009. Then, in early July, it was discovered that McGowan would require knee surgery to repair articular cartilage damage. A month and a half later, McGowan resumed his rehab in hopes of being available for 2010.
After making an appearance in a Minor League Spring Training game in which he was a shell of his former self, McGowan gave up on trying to make the Opening Day roster. Instead, he continued his rehab in Florida while the rest of the team headed North. Then, in June, he once again experienced pain in his shoulder. It was later discovered that he had torn his rotator cuff and would once again require season-ending surgery.
McGowan is out of options and is most likely to once again begin the season on the Disabled List.
While no one would call McGowan’s refusal to give up anything less than admirable, perhaps he’d find better luck with his recovery if he didn’t spend so much time with his comic book collection and obsessing over Bruce Willis.
It’s unclear at this point what McGowan could possibly offer the Blue Jays. Still, paying the league minimum is both a good way to reward his efforts to get back to health and stay invested in a player that has shown flashes of brilliance, just in case there’s ever a return.