DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays ace R.A. Dickey threw his first official bullpen of Spring Training on Wednesday, and third-year catcher J.P. Arencibia was the man behind the plate.
Toronto has yet to make a decision on who will become the knuckleballer's regular catcher, but the bulk of the load during the early parts of Spring Training will be handed to Arencibia.
Back-up catcher candidates Josh Thole and Henry Blanco have both worked with Dickey in the past, but with the World Baseball Classic set to open in March, the Blue Jays want to ensure Arencibia gets his fair share of time with the offseason addition before both depart to represent Team USA.
"I think they looked good," manager John Gibbons said of Dickey and Arencibia. "Until they go to the WBC, they'll be a pairing here. You don't want [Arencibia] to go out [in the WBC] naked."
Arencibia is the undisputed No. 1 catcher in camp and will get the majority of time behind the plate, even if he doesn't end up being the one to work with Dickey once the season begins. Until a final decision needs to be made, both will have plenty of opportunities to work out the kinks.
McGowan sidetracked by another shoulder injury
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Another Spring Training, another shoulder injury for right-hander Dustin McGowan.
That's the unfortunate reality facing the 30-year-old, who was once one of the most promising pitching prospects in the game.
McGowan, who hasn't pitched a full season since 2007, suffered yet another setback during the first week of Spring Training, when he experienced some soreness in his right shoulder while throwing off flat ground.
"He came up a little lame and his shoulder was barking a little bit," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "So he's kind of on the back-burner again. He's going to do everything, but he's not going to be on the mound -- another little setback."
McGowan appeared to turn a corner during the 2011 season, when he made his first appearance in the big leagues since '08. The following spring, he entered camp as the favorite to win the club's No. 5 spot in the rotation, but a foot injury dashed any hopes of heading north.
The foot injury was eventually replaced by a shoulder injury and he was unable to throw a single inning in either the Majors or Minors. There wasn't much information available on his status until Wednesday, when Gibbons revealed the hard-throwing righty was still experiencing pain.
McGowan, who owns a career 20-24 record with a 4.80 ERA over five seasons, has since been essentially shut down. Gibbons was relatively vague in his details and said while McGowan will still be able to work out, he is unable to go through a normal throwing program. There is no timetable for his return to the mound.
"He's had a tough road," Gibbons admitted. "You would love to see him bounce back and have a nice, solid, long, productive career. Right now, we really don't need him the way we're set up [in the rotation], but as the season goes on, you never know. He's got plenty of time."