Out of options McGowan 'remains a big unknown'

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Dustin McGowan missed all of 2009 following shoulder surgery and general manager J.P. Ricciardi went so far as to suggest that his career was in jeopardy, but now he’s former general manager J.P. Ricciardi and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports “the hope is that McGowan will be ready to join the rotation competition” in spring training.
However, Bastian adds that McGowan “remains a big unknown” given that he hasn’t pitched since July of 2008 and had his recovery from surgery sidetracked by a knee injury. Bastian also notes that McGowan is out of minor-league options, which means he can’t be sent to Triple-A without first passing through waivers.
Normally that would be an issue, because several teams would no doubt take a flier on McGowan if available for nothing, but the Blue Jays can always get him to the minors while avoiding the waiver wire by making it a rehab assignment rather than a straightforward demotion.
In other words, if McGowan shows up at spring training looking like his old, pre-surgery self he’ll grab an Opening Day rotation spot. If instead he struggles in his return to the mound he’ll be placed on the disabled list to begin the season and then make his way back to the majors with a stay at extended spring training followed by a rehab stint. There’s no need to risk losing McGowan, at least until the Blue Jays find out whether there’s much left to lose following surgery.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.