Dustin McGowan building up arm strength in another comeback bid


Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan, last seen on a major league mound in July 2008, has hit 95 mph on the gun while throwing in extended spring training and should begin a rehab assignment in about three weeks, according to manager John Farrell.

Shi Davidi reports that the Jays are considering stretching out McGowan and attempting to bring him back as a starter. They’ll start by pitching him two innings at a time. They’re going as slow as possible with him, so they plan on leaving him in extended spring training until that wraps up on June 20. Then he could begin a 30-day rehab assignment if he’s still healthy.

McGowan has underwent both labrum and rotator cuff surgeries since last pitching for the Blue Jays. A 2000 supplemental first-round pick, he was long a top prospect. In his one mostly full major league season, he went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA and a 144/61 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings in 2007.  He hurt his shoulder the next year and has struggled ever since to make it back.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.