Daily Dose: McGowan's career in danger?

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Dustin McGowan emerged as one of the AL’s most promising young pitchers
by winning 14 games with a 3.62 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 32 starts
from mid-2007 to mid-2008, but began struggling following a 125-pitch
outing last June and had season-ending shoulder surgery a month later.
His recovery has gone poorly and general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted
Wednesday that his career is in jeopardy.

“He’s not where he should be from a rehab standpoint,” Ricciardi
noted. “I don’t know if he’s never going to throw again, but right now
he’s struggling.” Toronto’s pitching staff has been wrecked by all
kinds of injuries during the past two years, but losing a young
right-hander with a mid-90s fastball who missed plenty of bats and
induced quite a few ground balls is perhaps the biggest long-term blow.

While the Blue Jays somehow become the fifth MLB team to win 40 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Injuring his elbow in the World Baseball Classic didn’t stop Matt
Lindstrom from averaging the usual 96 miles per hour with his fastball,
but he hasn’t looked right since. Last season Lindstrom allowed 21 runs
and 26 walks in 57.1 innings. This year he gave up 22 runs and 20 walks
in just 29 innings before the Marlins stuck him on the disabled list
Wednesday with a sprained right elbow.

Florida worked Lindstrom awfully hard despite the WBC scare, using
him in both games of a doubleheader last month and on three straight
days twice in the past four weeks. Now he’s been shut down for at least
a month and most likely will be sidelined well into August. Leo Nunez
is the obvious choice to replace him in the ninth inning, assuming that
his current ankle injury doesn’t linger for very long.

* Edinson Volquez had been making steady progress in his recovery
from elbow tendinitis, but has been shut down after an MRI exam showed
inflammation. He’ll be examined again next week, but now seems highly
unlikely to return before the All-Star break. With his recovery
timetable being delayed the Reds now have an excuse to give Homer
Bailey an extended rotation tryout beginning Saturday.

Bailey was a mess in past stints with the Reds and his prospect
stock is nowhere near where it once was, but he’s still just 23 years
old and is 5-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 40/10 K/BB ratio in six starts since
his latest demotion to Triple-A. This is his third go-around at
Triple-A and he’s made 45 starts there, so it may be time to let him
sink or swim while praying that he throws strikes for once.

* There’s no official diagnosis yet on Brandon Webb’s injured shoulder
following two MRI exams and he’s expected to seek a second opinion
later this week, but the Arizona Republic
reported Wednesday that “surgery appears to be a strong possibility”
while specifically speculating that he may have a torn labrum. If
that’s indeed the case, Webb is done for 2009 and perhaps most of 2010.

Note: As the first half comes to a close, we’re now offering a “Midseason Report” that includes all the outstanding content from our “Season Pass” product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.

AL Quick Hits: Evan Longoria left Wednesday’s game with a
strained hamstring and missed time earlier this month with the same
injury … CC Sabathia (biceps) declared himself “good to go” following a
bullpen session Wednesday … Neftali Feliz has moved to the bullpen at
Triple-A in preparation for a second-half role
in Texas … Oakland placed Josh Outman (elbow) on the shelf Thursday,
calling up Gio Gonzalez to replace him in the rotation … Denard Span
(ear) is set to come off the disabled list Thursday … Jason Varitek has
been slumping this month, so manager Terry Francona explained Wednesday
that he’s been dealing with neck stiffness … Koji Uehera said Wednesday
that he’s in danger of missing his next start because of elbow soreness
… David Ortiz homered again Wednesday and is 18-for-55 (.327) with six
homers this month … Orlando Hernandez began his comeback by tossing a
scoreless inning out of the bullpen Tuesday at Triple-A.

NL Quick Hits: Oliver Perez (knee) estimated Wednesday that he
needs a couple more minor-league rehab starts before rejoining the Mets
… Manny Parra tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his second
Triple-A outing Tuesday, striking out Manny Ramirez … Brad Lidge (knee)
will return from the disabled list Thursday, according to general
manager Ruben Amaro Jr. … Gary Sheffield was out of the lineup for a
third straight game Wednesday after getting a cortisone shot for his
injured knee … Seth McClung has been tabbed to replace Dave Bush
(biceps) in the rotation and may have some short-term value in NL-only
leagues … Kenshin Kawakami exited Wednesday’s start after taking a Joba
Chamberlain liner off the side of his neck … General manager Neal
Huntington said Wednesday that Ian Snell will remain in the rotation
for at least one more start … David Wright stole his 19th base
Wednesday while going 4-for-4 with three runs.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.