Anthopoulos discusses McGowan
Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan threw a two-inning simulated game this morning at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. McGowan threw 30 pitches, including sliders for the first time since his shoulder surgery in July 2008. The questions are short approximations of what was asked, but here is what general manager Alex Anthopoulos had to say during a Q&A with reporters after the promising session.
How did McGowan look?
“McGowan looked great. I thought he looked really good — free and easy, good command. His slider looked really sharp. He just looked very, very good. The big test now is how does he feel the following day and the day after that. Does the soreness continue to go away? It’s one of those things that, when he does throw, the stuff looks sharp, everything looks good. It’ll just be a question of how he bounces back.”
If he bounces back fine, what is next?
“Right now, the plan would be, assuming that everything is going according to plan, he would throw one more simulated game and then hopefully throw in a big league game some time by the middle of March.”
Is there any way he could start season with the Jays?
“We’ve talked about it and it’s too early to tell. There is a scenario that he could. We’re just not sure yet. That’s why we really need to take it each outing at a time and continue to evaluate. We’re not sure what the role would be. If he continues to well and to progress well, potentially he could work his way to being a starter for us. But again, we’ll have to see how he does and how deep he can get into games.”
Is starting him on the DL a realistic scenario?
“If he’s not right and he’s not 100 percent ready to go, we’ve even told him that. The Opening Day date is not something that we’ve targeted specifically. It’s more of when his arm is ready to go. So that’s certainly a scenario. If we need to start him on the DL, we would do that and continue to rehab him down here and hopefully he’d be back here sooner rather than later.”
Placing him on the DL seems to help since he’s out of options…
“The only reason we would do that is because the health doesn’t allow him to pitch for us. It’s not because he’s out of options. It’s because he’s not healthy to pitch in a big league game. Just from what you see today, that stuff and the way he looks, certainly if he can go every five days, there’s no question he would be on the roster one way or the other. So, ability-wise, it’s not a question. It’s just will his arm allow him to do it and to take the ball?”
Would starting or relieving be better for his arm?
We’ve talked about that and it’s a matter of getting him enough rest and that’s why we think starting is the right way to go, allowing just that soreness to go away. It’s one of those things that right now we think starting is the best cource of action for him from a health standpoint.
You could buy more time since a fifth starter isn’t needed until the season’s second series…
“We certainly could. … We really don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. This is a great first step. If he continues to feel good, we’ll do one more of these. Hopefully he continues to feel good after that. Then hopefully we can get him into a game. But again, that’s still two more steps before we even get to that stage.”
Is he on a set five-day schedule right now?
“If there’s days where he needs a day more, we’ll do something like that. It’s not really set in stone. If we need a day or two more, we certainly will. It’s all about doing this the right way. We’re not in a rush. We don’t look at Opening Day as the day we’re trying to get him ready for. It’s when his arm is ready and what’s right for him for the long term.”
But you can’t rule out Opening Day…
“No, I don’t think we can. We certainly can’t. We’ll continue to see how he does and there’s going to come a point in time on the calendar, as we get later into March, where it won’t make sense if he’s not as far along as we hope he is. But, right now, you can’t rule that out. It’s too early to rule that out.”
How encouraged have you been with McGowan’s progress?
“We’re very encouraged. He’s come leaps and bounds from where he was last summer. In fact, he’s been throwing off a mound, throwing sides, obviously now progressing to the point where he’s throwing a two-inning sim game. That’s just a great step for him. And just the way that the ball is coming out of his hand, the way his stuff looks, he’s throwing strikes. He looks very good.”
Why simulated games before Grapefruit League games?
“It’s part of, you look at any time you’re rehabbing someone, you always do it that way just for those reasons, if he runs deep counts, just it’s a controlled environment. That’s the reason that you do it. That’s why you have two of them. And if he goes through those without any problems, then you get him into a game. There’s no question you do it as a starting point because it’s a controlled environment, if anything does come up, if there’s any issues with his health or his arm or anything like that. It’s a controlled environment. You can control the circumstances.”