Dustin McGowan building up arm strength in another comeback bid

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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.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.