CLEARWATER, Florida - Could Dustin McGowan find his way in to the Blue Jays' bullpen?
"He's in the picture," said manager John Gibbons before Sunday's 13-5 loss to Philadelphia. "There's a chance he could make the team in that middle role but it's getting to the point where we've got to get him on the mound quick if it's going to happen."
McGowan arrived at camp expecting to work a normal pitcher's schedule. But, as has become routine during his star-crossed career, McGowan was halted by pain in his pitching shoulder. His program has progressed enough in the last three weeks that, barring another setback, McGowan will throw off a mound on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a foot injury in a minor league game last spring.
"The goal is always to break (camp) with the team," said McGowan. "My process has been a lot slower. Just to get off the mound I'm very excited but I'm also a little nervous too because it's been so long. We'll just see how things go on Tuesday."
McGowan, 30, underwent shoulder surgeries in 2008 and 2010 after his breakout 2007 season, when he won 12 games for the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays bullpen is crowded. Sergio Santos, Casey Janssen, Esmil Rogers and Darren Oliver have spots locked up. It hasn't been declared but Steve Delabar seems a certainty, which leaves two spots available. McGowan's competition consists of Brett Cecil, J.A. Happ, Jeremy Jeffress, Justin Germano, Brad Lincoln, Aaron Loup and David Bush.
Gibbons managed the Jays during McGowan's best days.
"I understand when he came back (in September, 2011) that he looked like the same guy," said Gibbons. "Everybody was impressed; he's just had that injury and that's hanging over his head. If somehow he gets beyond that and the rest of his career he's fine he's got a chance to be a really, really good one."
- Ricky Romero worked some curveballs in to his repertoire on Sunday.
"I feel like I'm aggressive," said Romero. "If anything I just need to calm down a little bit. I felt like I was ahead of a couple guys there and I let them get away or just ran the count a little deeper than I'm going to use this time to refine the stuff that needs refining and get after it."
Romero pitched two innings. He allowed an earned run on one hit, walked one, struck out one and threw a wild pitch.
- Sergio Santos struck out two hitters, Tommy Joseph and Ryan Howard, in his one inning of work against the Phillies.
"The ball feels like it's coming out great," said Santos. "I threw a changeup today that was actually a decent pitch and a couple of good sliders. Overall it was a good day."
Both of Santos' strikeouts came off sliders, including a check swing by Howard that ended the inning and stranded two runners.
- Ryan Howard's three-run home run in the fifth, off Brett Cecil, literally left the ballpark. It cleared the right field fence, the incline lawn seats and a chain link fence, which backs on to the US19 highway.
- After the game the Blue Jays sent pitchers John Stilson, Sean Nolin and Richard Thompson to minor league camp, which opens Tuesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.
- Colby Rasmus is expected to return to the Blue Jays lineup on Tuesday. Rasmus, 26, hasn't played since Wednesday after suffering a minor injury to his non-throwing shoulder during batting practice.
- Mark DeRosa (back) returned Sunday after a two-day absence from the lineup. He went 2-for-3, including a solo home run in the sixth inning off Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardo.
- The Blue Jays have Monday off and will return to action on Tuesday, 1:05 ET, against Baltimore at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
J.A. Happ will start and pitch three innings. The rest of the pitching lineup looks like this:
Darren Oliver (1 inning)
Brad Lincoln (1)
Steve Delabar (1)
Esmil Rogers (1)
Jeremy Jeffress (1)
Neil Wagner (1)