ST. PETERSBURG -- Dustin McGowan emerged from a back room and made his way around the visitors' clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Monday, stopping at a few lockers to chat with some of his Blue Jays teammates.
It sure beat watching Toronto's games from afar.
"It almost hurts to watch," said McGowan, who is currently recovering from a second surgery on his right shoulder. "You want to be there instead of sitting there watching it. Being a spectator is not too fun."
McGowan has not pitched for the Blue Jays since July 2008. Since then, the pitcher has undergone a pair of shoulder operations. The latest surgery -- performed by Dr. James Andrews in June -- was to repair a significant tear of McGowan's rotator cuff, which will sideline the pitcher for an undetermined amount of time.
Right now, McGowan is eagerly awaiting November, when he will be cleared to pick up a baseball and simply play catch. This past spring, McGowan attempted to make a push for the Blue Jays' rotation, but he knew midway through March that he was probably headed for another surgery.
"You at least have to try the other methods first," McGowan said. "Maybe you'll get lightning in a bottle and something does work. ... Early on, I felt really good. My first couple bullpens and batting practices, I felt really good. I guess the wear and tear, I just couldn't take too much of it. Once it started aching, it just never stopped.
"I kept trying to push through it and push through it and it kept getting worse."
For now, the 28-year-old McGowan -- a 12-game winner for the Jays in 2007 -- is limited to cardio workouts and doing lower body weight training. When he is able, the pitcher also tracks Toronto's ballgames. One thing is for certain, McGowan is thankful that the Jays organization has continued to show faith in his ability to return to the mound.
"I'm really grateful," McGowan said. "They don't have to do that. I've been lucky and blessed that they've done that for me and hopefully I can come back and help them out."