Well, at least we’ll always have September 6th, 2011, Dustin McGowan.
For most Toronto Blue Jays fans, that’s a day that will be remembered as the culmination of an incredible comeback journey by the right-hander that lasted several years. McGowan wanted it to be just like any other start, but for the team, it was both a sentimental and a monumental achievement that they could rally behind.
The 30-year old former organization top pitching prospect made just five starts towards the end of the season. Sure, the results were undesirable, but that he even made it back to the big leagues, after injuries to his shoulder should have ended his career, was enough to give him a mulligan in 2012.
That chance never came last year as McGowan, who was signed to a two-year, $3 million extension, hurt his foot in Spring Training, and suffered another setback to his shoulder and wound up missing the entire year.
You get where this is going:
Though manager John Gibbons is understandably trying to play down the severity of McGowan’s shoulder issue, that he’s suffered yet another setback this early in to camp is anything but a vote of confidence that he’ll be able to pitch for the team this year.
In fact, you’d have to wonder if he’ll pitch again at all.
That sounds dramatic for a pitcher with a “barking” shoulder, but McGowan isn’t the type of pitcher where that statement is taken lightly. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Gibbons also said that while the right-hander will continue with a throwing program, that a return to the mound is indefinite.
There will be some questions as to what the team might want to do about McGowan’s and the second year of his guaranteed contract, but it’s's a bittersweet feeling for the Blue Jays, for whom McGowan’s return was a huge morale booster.
With a new-look rotation and restocked bullpen, it would have been doubtful whether McGowan would have been able to contribute to the team at the winning level that they expect in the coming season.
Now, they are unlikely to find out any time soon.
And if the road happens to end here, that’d be a shame for a good guy like McGowan to have come so far, only to see it end this way.