Dustin McGowan’s comeback attempt moves to the bullpen

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Once upon a time Dustin McGowan was a promising young starter who threw 281 innings with a 4.20 ERA between 2007 and 2008, but injuries sidetracked his career and now the Blue Jays say he’ll be coming back as a reliever.

If he comes back at all, that is.

McGowan hasn’t pitched in a major-league game since July of 2008, during which time he’s had two shoulder surgeries, and Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that the Blue Jays are taking a “cautious approach” with his transition to relief, limiting him to 25-pitch bullpen session at less than full effort.

Currently on the 60-day disabled list so the Blue Jays can avoid using a 40-man roster spot on him, McGowan is likely headed to minor-league camp with the hope being that he can appear in a game there at some point later this month. Prior to the multiple surgeries McGowan definitely had the raw stuff to be a shutdown reliever, as his average fastball clocked in at 94.5 miles per hour, but the now 28-year-old right-hander has indicated that another setback could motivate him to retire.

The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.