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McGowan strong in return from flu

McGowan strong in return from flu

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Dustin McGowan made his return to the mound on Thursday afternoon following a 10-day absence because of a severe flu.

McGowan didn't allow a hit and struck out two during his two scoreless innings of work vs the Astros. He looked strong, sporting his typical mid-90s velocity throughout the course of his outing.

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The 31-year-old appears destined for a spot in the bullpen, but he hasn't given up the hope of receiving some consideration for a starting job.

"That's where I want to be," McGowan said. "It's hard to say in my head that I'm going to be a starter, but that's where I want to be. If I'm there, great. If I'm in the bullpen, also great. It's a win-win situation, I think.

"I haven't really talked to anybody here [about starting] lately, but they're just going to keep building me up and we'll see what happens."

McGowan was always considered a longshot to crack the starting staff, but his chances diminished even further following his brief absence. He has been stretched out to only two innings, and there won't be enough time before the end of camp to get him enough work to get to where he needs to be to start.

The native of Savannah, Ga., expects to max out around four innings by the end of Spring Training. That would put him in a position to make some lengthy appearances out of the bullpen, and it's always possible he could enter the mix for a rotation spot at some point during the season.

McGowan enjoyed a resurgence during the 2013 season following years of nagging injuries. He posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out 26 in 25 2/3 innings of work.

"I felt good, and for me that's the most important thing -- feeling good," McGowan said following his outing vs the Astros. "My pitches are starting to come around and location is starting to get better, so it was a positive outing for me today."

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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