TORONTO -- Toronto fans have heard it consistently over Dustin McGowan's injury-riddled career, but the Blue Jays still consider the right-hander a piece of the future.
McGowan, who underwent season-ending right shoulder surgery on Aug. 9 after missing the entire year, is strengthening his shoulder through rehab but is not expected to begin a throwing program until December.
"He is following the protocol as it is outlined," manager John Farrell said. "His throwing program ... almost coincides with the normal offseason throwing program in advance of Spring Training."
Farrell said that date is Dec. 15, and that McGowan's post-operation throwing program is not too different from the beginning stages of the offseason throwing program, which all players undertake.
"He will advance through that to the point of getting on the mound and then like every post-op situation, you're adjusting according to how the body responds."
McGowan was penciled into Toronto's rotation to begin the year but was forced to the shelf with plantar fasciitis in his right foot prior to the start of the season before suffering a shoulder injury that ultimately led to surgery.
The 30-year-old has appeared in just five games with the Blue Jays since 2008, all of which came in 2011. He was signed to a three-year, $4.1 million deal in the offseason with a club option for 2015, despite his extensive history of arm troubles, which includes two previous shoulder operations as well as Tommy John surgery.
Farrell said, as far as he believes, McGowan is prepared to stay the course and eventually work his way back to Toronto.
"He has been frustrated, there is no doubt about it," Farrell said. "But I haven't spoke to him about any career-type-of decisions, by any means. I know we are all of the thought that he will continue on and exhaust every available resource and opportunity to get back on the mound."