Hutchison, McGowan to undergo surgery Thursday

Hutchison, McGowan to undergo surgery Thursday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handers Drew Hutchison and Dustin McGowan will undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday.

Hutchison will have Tommy John surgery and likely won't be back to full strength until 2014, while McGowan is scheduled for exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder.

Both procedures will be performed by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and while neither surgery comes as a major surprise it is still yet another setback for Toronto's pitching staff.

"Yeah, it's unfortunate," manager John Farrell said. "Obviously, every case is individual and every step in a non-surgical rehab approach was taken."

Hutchison injured his right elbow during a start against the Phillies on June 15. He was optimistic at the time that surgery could be avoided and it was recommended that he stop throwing for a period of six weeks.

When that timeline expired, Hutchison began with light tossing, but on Day 3 of the throwing program the discomfort returned and he was forced to be shut down again. It was then determined Tommy John surgery was the only course of action.

Hutchison had become one of the Blue Jays most reliable pitchers at the time of his injury. He went 5-3 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 starts at the age of 21 but now faces a long road back to the Major Leagues.

"The bottom line is if you're not feeling any discomfort, then you continue on the current course," Farrell said when asked if the surgery should have taken place sooner. "He's consulted four doctors, including our own ... and when there were multiple opinions that stated rest is the appropriate course of action at this point in time, along with those recommendations, came with the caveat that if he felt some discomfort then Tommy John was the next step."

Hutchison is expected to eventually return, but the same can't be said for McGowan. The oft-injured pitcher is set for a third procedure on his right shoulder since 2008 and has also dealt with foot and knee ailments during that time as well.

Outside of five games in 2011, McGowan, 30, hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2008. In the past, McGowan said if he had to undergo another major surgery he likely would opt for retirement, but he backed away from those statements during Spring Training.

McGowan's resolve will be tested yet again as he has another procedure in Pensacola, Fla. The extent of the damage in McGowan's shoulder will not be known until the procedure is performed and there is no way of knowing how long of a rehab he faces until an official diagnosis can take place.

"Given all that he has been through, he's been a testament to resolve and persistence, there's no question about it," Farrell said. "Yet, as a player and particularly in this case as a pitcher, when you can't throw without discomfort there really aren't a whole lot of options. So you have to seek the best course to remedy those and continue on."

McGowan signed a two-year extension in the spring valued at $3 million. Toronto also has a club option in 2015 for $4 million that also includes a $500,000 buyout.

McGowan is 20-24 with a 4.80 ERA in 80 career games at the big league level. He hasn't pitched a full season without injury since 2007, when he went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.