McGowan goes 1-2-3 in first outing since last year

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Dustin McGowan took another big step forward in his rehab by tossing one scoreless inning in Tuesday's 6-3 win against the Pirates.

Toronto's right-hander made his first appearance against Major Leaguers in more than a year, inducing two weak popups and a fly ball to right field while throwing eight of his 14 pitches for strikes.

"It was just good to be back out there and it was a lot of fun today," said McGowan, whose velocity was between 91-92 mph. "Leading up to it, I was pretty excited, but once you get out there, you know what the task at hand is, so you calm down and get going again."

McGowan, who has undergone multiple shoulder surgeries, is attempting yet another comeback. But unlike the past few times, he now has his sights set on becoming a reliever. The belief last year was that McGowan was better suited for a starting role because of the amount of time it afforded for him to recover between outings.

The club's stance changed this spring, and at least for now, it's a welcome change of pace for McGowan. As a reliever, McGowan is able to focus on improving the quality of his stuff as opposed to worrying about building up endurance.

"I think it's going to be better for recovery time," McGowan said. "Hopefully it gets to where it's just normal, have normal soreness after you throw. Honestly, I think right now, if I was to start, I'd need 15 days to recover after I start. So I think this is the path to go right now."

McGowan has already been ruled out as a candidate to make the 25-man roster and will begin the year on the disabled list. Beyond that, there is no set plan, but his future likely will become more clear in the final days of Spring Training.

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.