"I think this is a big time for me now and it's time to step up," said McGowan, standing inside the visitors' clubhouse at Jacobs Field on Tuesday. "Any time you get called up, it's special. I just need to try and stick now."
McGowan officially will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, when the right-hander is scheduled to take the mound against the Indians for his first start of the season for the Blue Jays. Toronto summoned him from the Minor Leagues when starter Gustavo Chacin was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a sore left shoulder.
Chacin, who is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in five starts this year, underwent an MRI exam on his shoulder on Tuesday in Cleveland. The test revealed nothing more than a strain, which was the initial finding by the club on Monday. The earliest Chacin can be activated from the DL is on May 14, which means he'll miss three turns in the rotation if he returns on schedule.
So, McGowan could have at least a trio of starts to audition for further work with the Blue Jays, who have given him opportunities in each of the last two seasons. This year, the 25-year-old performed well in five starts with Syracuse, posting a 1.64 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 22 innings for the Chiefs. McGowan said the pressure he's felt in the past has been absent, and that's helped him so far this time around.
"I tried to do more than I could do [in the past]," said McGowan, who was the 33rd overall pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. "When you start doing that, and trying to overdo it, it gets worse. I'm just going to do what I've been doing in Triple-A, which is just go out there and have fun and throw strikes."
One slight adjustment that has helped McGowan, who is 2-5 with a 6.69 ERA in 29 games (10 starts) for Toronto, has involved his motion during his delivery. McGowan has been tucking his hands more during his wind-up, which has helped with his command.
"It's nothing big -- people might not even notice it," McGowan said. "It's something really subtle. It helps me, because I have a tendency to lean back on my offspeed pitch and everything sails up. It keeps me balanced and keeps me level."
Award winners: The results are in. Roy Halladay and Aaron Hill were unanimous choices for the Blue Jays' Pitcher and Player of the Month for April, respectively, in balloting by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Halladay, who received five first-place votes for a perfect 15 points, went 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in six April starts. It marked the first time in his career that the 2003 American League Cy Young Award winner finished the opening month with a perfect record.
Halladay turned in two complete games, including a 10-inning performance against Detroit on April 13, and he led the American League with 47 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed 35 hits, struck out 33 and walked seven. Pitchers Casey Janssen (five points), A.J. Burnett (four points), Tomo Ohka (four points), Jeremy Accardo (one point) and Jason Frasor (one point) also received votes.
Hill, who also scored a perfect 15 points in the voting, finished April as Toronto's offensive leader in batting average (.312), home runs (five) and RBIs (20) in 25 games. The second baseman also turned in many stellar defensive plays in the field. Center fielder Vernon Wells (10 points), right fielder Alex Rios (four points) and infielder John McDonald (one point) also received votes.
Fighting for five: Victor Zambrano, who recently replaced Josh Towers as Toronto's fifth starter, has been working on building up his arm strength in preparation for his first start on Wednesday. Toronto manager John Gibbons said on Tuesday there isn't a set pitch count for Zambrano, but he's optimistic the right-hander will last three or four innings, five at the most.
Lining things up: With Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia on the mound on Tuesday, Gibbons decided to pull left-handed hitting Adam Lind out of the No. 2 spot of the lineup. As a result, Wells hit second, followed by designated hitter Frank Thomas, third baseman Troy Glaus and Hill. Lind moved down to the seventh slot, while Jason Phillips batted eighth and spelled Lyle Overbay at first base.
Did you know? For the second season in a row, the Blue Jays became the first team in the Major Leagues to reach 100 hits.
Quotable: "It was cold weather, so the hitters didn't like to hit too much. You can credit that for the strikeouts." --McGowan, joking about his high strikeout totals this year at Triple-A
Coming up: Zambrano (0-1, 5.06 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the Blue Jays against the Indians at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Jacobs Field. Cleveland will counter with righty Jake Westbrook (1-2, 7.96 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less