So far, so good for Dustin McGowan's comeback

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Dustin McGowan missed all of last season following shoulder surgery, but manager Cito Gaston reports that he “looked good” during a two-inning simulated game yesterday.
McGowan tossed 44 pitches, after which Gaston noted that “he threw well, free and easy.” He’s now scheduled to appear in a minor-league game Friday and if that goes well Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun reports that McGowan is tentatively slated to make his official spring training debut in a big-league game “around March 24.”
That would leave time for just 2-3 spring appearances and likely wouldn’t be sufficient to make McGowan an option for the Opening Day roster, although Gaston has yet to rule it out. Instead, expect McGowan to begin the season on the disabled list and remain behind in extended spring training before heading out on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Before the injury he was emerging as one of the league’s top young starters, but McGowan hasn’t faced big-league hitters since July of 2008 and even avoiding all setbacks likely wouldn’t get him back into the Blue Jays’ rotation before late April or early May.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.