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.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.