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09/11/2018 8:52 pm  

TORONTO – Dustin McGowan badly wants to succeed in whats likely his last chance to be a regular big league starting pitcher. Patrick Omameh Jersey . He badly wants to erase the doubts about the health of his three times surgically-repaired right shoulder. He wants, once and for all, to eliminate the too-good-to-be-true cloud that hovers over his unlikely story. After yet another all-too-brief outing, four innings plus three batters in Wednesday nights 10-8 loss to the Orioles, McGowan admitted that hes wearing out sooner than hed like. "Maybe a little bit," said McGowan when asked if he feels fatigued. "I do seem at 60 pitches, I kind of seem to be falling backwards a little bit, I guess you could say. But I feel good, my arm feels great, its just sometimes it seems like the ball is not coming out quite right after 60, 65 pitches." Theres some positive in there with that negative. His arm, he insists, is healthy. Hes pleased with how he feels when hes pitching. Hes encouraged with his bounce back in the days after an outing. The problem, it seems, relates to a lack of stamina. "The body just feels like it runs out of steam a little bit," said McGowan. "I shouldnt be feeling that, I should be at the point where I can go 90-100, especially the way my arm feels. It feels great." Pressed further, McGowan didnt deny hes had thoughts about giving up his starters spot and returning to the bullpen. "You think about that, but right now Im planning on being a starter and Ive got to get past that hurdle sometime," he said. His unlikely return to the rotation aside, its important to put McGowans issues in context. While hed openly mused about taking one more shot at being a starter as far back as last September, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos was supportive of McGowans winter efforts to stretch out, there wasnt a realistic expectation hed be leaving the bullpen. McGowan found a home there last season, posting a 2.45 ERA in 25 appearances and showing the stuff of a late-inning, high leverage, shut down reliever. Then this year, toward the end of spring training, the Blue Jays fell just short in the pursuit of free agent right-hander Ervin Santana. There was a spot to fill behind R.A. Dickey, Drew Hutchison, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow. J.A. Happ dealt with back inflammation and pancaked with four awful Grapefruit League starts, resulting in a season-starting stint on the disabled list. Marcus Stroman was inconsistent and started the year with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Aaron Sanchez, whose repertoire has Blue Jays personnel frothing, is working at Double-A New Hampshire and his innings are being monitored early in the season. Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond are best suited for long relief, which left McGowan as the best option. This despite the fact he suffered through a bout with a nasty stomach virus in early March, which docked about a week off his spring training schedule and pushed back efforts to get him multiple-inning appearances. "It could be," said McGowan of whether his shorter than expected spring has caught up with him. "We sped it up a lot, usually you wouldnt increase that much that fast, but we had to and we did it. Ive just got to find a way. Theres a way, Ive just got to get it past that hurdle." Whats still unclear is how long the Blue Jays are willing to give him. Stroman is off to a fine start with the Bisons, posting a 2.18 ERA, 1.355 WHIP and 26 strikeouts against six walks in three starts. His time is coming. So is Sanchezs, eventually. Could it be sooner rather than later? A Relievers Approach The Blue Jays entered Wednesdays action a Top-10 team in relief innings pitched. Relievers have hurled 67 2/3 innings so far this season, getting on average about 10 outs per game. The bullpen is its own world, made up of pitchers who take different approaches to getting ready and staying fresh in case theyre called on to appear in games on consecutive days. Take Brett Cecil, a closer during his sophomore year at the University of Maryland in 2006. By the time he debuted in the big leagues in 2009, he was a starter. Cecil won a career-high 15 games in 2010, then had a mysterious drop in velocity on his fastball, struggled, and has since revived his career as a left-handed relief specialist. "Its just kind of an everyday thing about how I feel," said Cecil of a days preparation. "Whether Im off that day, whether Im going to throw that day; it just all depends on the night before, the two nights before, what Ive done. If I need to stretch, I stretch. If I need to lift, I go lift." Cecil is being careful early in the season after experiencing elbow pain late last year. He made a career-high 60 appearances before being shut down in mid-September. The games he could handle but as a former starter, Cecil was learning how to prepare for relief work. Hes got a better handle on the demands this season. "I wasnt sure how to police myself being a reliever so the days that I felt like throwing a flat ground, I would throw a flat ground," said Cecil. "Did I really need it? No." Cecil believes its easier on the arm to be a starter. You pitch every fifth day, working through a rest, treatment, throwing regimen in-between starts. In relief, you could pitch on back-to-back days and then sit for a number of games. There are periods of consistent work, every other day. Its unpredictable. If a reliever has a two-pitch outing, like Cecil did on Friday night in Cleveland, it counts as a days work so when he throws again on Saturday, as he did against the Indians, hes not available for Sunday. "Thats one of those things that people dont see," said Cecil. "We as bullpen guys dont get a chance to gradually warm up. Its, youve got to get on the mound and throw and youve got to get hot in a very short amount of time. It puts a lot of stress on the arm." Closer Sergio Santos didnt appear in Tuesday nights win over the Orioles but with the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, he was warming up to pitch the ninth. Its not an appearance in Santos stats line but it is a day of work. "I had two days off plus an off day so it was technically three days off," said Santos. "It was fine for me to get off the mound and I threw maybe eight to 10 pitches. Just something to where I was sharp enough that if the inning were to end, Id be able to go out and do my job and if it didnt, then it was just a day of a little bit more than a flat ground." Santos is less concerned about a day like Tuesday in April but come July and August, the dog days of summer, relievers become more concerned with "saving their bullets." That is, throw when needed and to stay ready; just dont throw any more than whats required. Bullpen coach Bob Stanley charts pitches thrown and keeps track of each relievers throwing schedule. Guys have different warmup routines. Santos likes eight to 12 pitches off the mound before entering a game. Cecil likes 15 to 20, throwing the final five at maximum capacity. If hes rushed, hell factor in the eight pitches he gets on the game mound. "Some guys warm up with an intensity that matches almost the game and can be harder," said Santos. "Some guys take it a little lighter when theyre warming up." Carl Banks Jersey . Torres tells Spanish daily AS "in football you never know where you will be inside one month. Im going to work hard, thats all you can do with this last part of the season so important. Jonathan Stewart Jersey . Vargas (8-3) allowed four singles and two walks while striking out five, allowing only two runners from a diluted Twins lineup to reach second base. Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson hit RBI singles in the second inning against Kevin Correia (4-10), and that was all Vargas needed.Scott Flory isnt looking to break the bank. The new president of the CFL Players Association said Tuesday all the union wants is a fair deal with the league. The two sides are scheduled to resume talks next week on a new collective bargaining agreement. The present deal is set to expire May 30. "All we want is a fair agreement," Flory said in a telephone interview. "We understand the league . . . players just want a fair share." These are indeed heady times for the CFL. The league has a new contract extension with athletic apparel giant Reebok. One of its teams (Winnipeg) moved into a new stadium last season and another (Hamilton) is scheduled to do so this year, the same time expansion Ottawa returns and plays at a refurbished facility. Attendance continues to rise and corporate sponsorships remain strong. And then theres the CFLs lucrative television agreement with TSN reportedly worth $43 million annually thats scheduled to kick in this year. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon has repeatedly stated he never discusses CBA negotiations in public. But on Monday he said in a statement the league is committed to "working towards a fair and reasonable agreement with our players. We want to be fair to them and keep our league on the path to being strong as well as stable." Money will undoubtedly be a hot-button topic when talks resume. The new TV deal alone is more than 2 1/2 times the previous agreement, which was worth $15 million annually. Subsequently, CFL teams can expect more money from the leagues head office. Negotiations between the league and its players have traditionally been amicable. However, theres a persistent belief this time around players will dig in their heels in order to get what they believe is a fair piece of the financial pie. Theres been one strike since the formation of the CFLPA in 1965. It came in 74 and lasted three weeks during training camp before a three-year agreement was signed with no regular-season games lost. Flory reiterated Tuesday that CFL players wont play under terms of the existing CBA. While Flory didnt say so specifically, that suggests training camps wont open in June without a new deal in place. "Theres a lot more things than the financial," Flory said. "Theres player safety, transitioning and pension items that we want to look at as well. "This is an all-encompassing negotiation but there is a lot of growth going on in the league." And, Flory said, much of that growth is due to the quality of the on-field product. "The players lay it all on the line week in and week out, game in and game out for not very much," he said. "They are the most accessible members in the community, they are at charity events and speaking events, guys are everywhere and they deserve a fair share of whats gone on in the success of the league. "There is more people in the stadiums to watch the games. Theres more people watching on TV to watch the players play and I think thats important." Also worth noting is both sides have a lot riding on these negotiations. If a new agreement cant be reached and a work stoppage ensues, the lleague wouldnt receive any television money. Evan Brown Jersey. Conversely, the players wouldnt be paid either. "I cant and will not speak to that," Flory said when asked about a work stoppage. "We are always willing to meet with the league . . . we want to continue talks and we want to work towards a new collective agreement, there is no doubt about that." Calgary Stampeders fullback Rob Cote echoed those sentiments. "Every single one of us loves football and wants to play in June," said the product of Cochrane, Alta. "That is first and foremost. "Its a negotiation. Negotiations start slow and they usually speed up when you (have) a deadline. People tend to procrastinate when theyre negotiating, as Im sure everybody here is aware of. We all want to get a good, fair deal done and were looking forward to playing." For Stampeders president Gord Norrie, its business as usual. "Were just plodding along like were going to play football and keeping very optimistic," he said. The six-foot-four, 300-pound Flory replaces former CFL player Mike Morreale as union president. Florys election certainly raised questions about why the union membership would change its leadership heading into a new round of talks with the league. "I am not going to get into conspiracy theories or innuendo," Flory said politely. "This is a natural course of business that weve done as a players association for the last 40 years . . . I was very fortunate and humbled to be elected president and thats it." Flory, 37, is well versed in CFLPA business. The Regina native served as an Alouettes player rep for eight years and spent the last four seasons on the unions executive. "I became involved early as a player rep because I wanted to learn the business of the sport," he said. "We play under the rules on the field and I think its as important, or more important, to know the rules surrounding the game off the field. "I see it (being voted president) as a natural evolution. Its something I wanted to do to serve the players as best I could." Flory couldnt provide an answer when asked what kind of negotiator he is. His mandate at the bargaining table, though, is crystal clear. "At the end of the day, how I see my role is Im enacting the will of the people," he said. "Every player in this league who pays dues is my boss and I will do my best to represent them. "They are going to give us our marching orders and were going to execute it. The players are the game . . . Im passionate about the cause of the players," However, the question remains whether Flory, a three-time Grey Cup champion and nine-time league all-star, can continue to play while being CFLPA president. The last three union presidents — Dan Ferrone, Stu Laird and Morreale — all assumed the job following their playing careers. "Thats a good question," said Flory, twice named the CFLs outstanding lineman. "Ive already talked to (Alouettes GM) Jim Popp as to my role moving forward and hope to have an announcement by the end of next week." 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