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McGowan taking part in shoulder program

ST. PETERSBURG -- The list of Blue Jays pitchers taking part in the weighted-ball program to increase velocity and shoulder strength continues to grow.

Right-hander Dustin McGowan has now jumped on board and joins a group that already includes Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil and Casey Janssen. Former Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor is also a participant, while last year's manager John Farrell has his sons on the program as well.

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The Velocity Program was designed by Jamie Evans and has been credited with helping Delabar return from a devastating right elbow injury. The workout routine involves the use of weighted balls to increase overall strength and improve the ability to bounce back from outings on the mound.

"I just wanted to do something different," said McGowan, who has undergone multiple shoulder surgeries over the past several years. "I knew recovery has been the worst part, so they set up a program that would help recovery and so far it's been awesome.

"I pitched yesterday, and today, no soreness whatsoever. Been doing it for three weeks now, and it's working pretty well."

McGowan first became interested in the program after a lengthy discussion with Cecil during Spring Training. Cecil started the program in the offseason and went from throwing in the high 80s to now pitching in the 93-95 mph range.

The velocity is of secondary concern for McGowan. His first priority is finding a way to remain healthy on the mound after having only thrown 21 big league innings in the past four years.

Evans' program has pitchers using the weighted balls in various holds to help build up the muscle. They also go through pitching motions, but don't release the ball. Each program is individualized.

"We need to crawl before we walk, so we started out slow and kind of built up," McGowan said. "It took a few days. At first you're a little skeptical, because you don't know what to expect, but after three or four days, you start feeling the difference."

McGowan, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin at some point next week. There is no immediate timetable for his return to the big leagues.

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.

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