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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Dustin McGowan throws a pitch to the New York Yankees in the second inning of their American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, July 19, 2007. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (RAY STUBBLEBINE)
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Dustin McGowan throws a pitch to the New York Yankees in the second inning of their American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, July 19, 2007. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (RAY STUBBLEBINE)

The Look Ahead

Jays stand by their man Add to ...

Dustin McGowan raised hopes with a pain-free throwing session on Friday, and in the process conjured up memories of Chris Carpenter's injury-plagued departure from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Not to worry. Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos won't out-think himself on this one, despite the fact McGowan is out of options and would need to clear waivers in order to go down to the minor leagues.

"It's not a tough call at all," Anthopoulos said. "If Dustin isn't healthy, he'll go on the [15-day]disabled list to start the year. Overall, we're going to be very cautious with Dustin and do what's best for his career long term. If he recovers, he can still be a big part of this organization for years to come."

McGowan, who will continue to throw from a mound leading into spring training in Dunedin, Fla., as long as he's pain-free, has a non-guaranteed contract worth $500,000, hardly an onerous amount considering his upside and service time. He will turn 28 on March 24, and the Blue Jays have already invested considerable time and money in his development and frequent rehabilitations - including his recent knee and shoulder surgery. Forget the sad exit of Carpenter over what amounted to a $500,000 guarantee: Anthopoulos knows there's no point in cutting the cord with McGowan unless his career is over.

Chien-Ming Wang and Érik Bédard are two other rehabbing pitchers who have piqued the Blue Jays' interest. Both are coming off shoulder surgery, and the Blue Jays have made contact with their agents as well as doing their medical due diligence. A native of Navan, Ont., Bedard is still five months away from being able to pitch, and in this tight market, he might fall into the Blue Jays hands.

So what if it was a fastball over the plate? The selection of Clara Hughes as flag-bearer for Canada was the right choice out of several right choices and surely we can be a little more creative than have Wayne Gretzky light the cauldron, can't we? Rick Hansen or Betty Fox are the obvious choices, if we're stuck on the insipid notion that, as Canada's Olympic ambassador, Nancy Greene Raine can't light the cauldron. So what if she will have already carried the flame? The majority of Canadians appear to have carried the flame at some point. Gretzky only makes sense if selling out of our national game to the Americans is something you want to celebrate in front of the world.

Hedo Turkoglu has figured out that Toronto isn't a one-newspaper, Waffle House backwater like Orlando. When he made his plea for more touches after a loss to the Boston Celtics earlier this year, he did so only after Toronto Raptors media-relations staff prevented a clubhouse attendant from taking Turkoglu's clothes out of his locker, forcing him to change with the rest of his teammates instead of making a quick exit. But there's no need to take him to task for his postgame interview on Thursday, in which he answered a question from Jack Armstrong about his aggressive play with the word "ball," (as in he finally had it in his hands) and "I got nothing else to say." Good on the big Turk for stirring it up. It's better than hearing trade "demands" from the inconsequential likes of Garnet Exelby and Jamal Mayers, no?

I'm ready for cheesy e-mails and over-the-top Olympics nationalism, but it will be hard to beat the Hockey Hall of Fame's invitation to come watch Don Cherry "remove the protective casing" from 2002's Lucky Loonie today. You'll be able to touch the loonie all month, according to the hall. That begs the question: How are they going to get Cherry to remain in one place for so long?!

The truth is that the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up little of any consequence yesterday's house-cleaning - a bunch of third and fourth-line players including the perpetually sour Jason Blake and a soul-destroying goaltender. But The fact that a robust, nasty player like Dion Phaneuf would wear out his welcome with the nasty Darryl Sutter must at least be of some concern. Managerial incompetence aside, you'd think Sutter would know more than anybody what Phaneuf's all about. Oh, and why all the Ian White love all of a sudden? He took advantage of injuries and the regression of Luke Schenn to get ice time on a lousy team. It says here that the one player the Flames acquired who will make a difference in the playoffs is Niklas Hagman.

Sex rears its ugly head: England manager Fabio Capello will be deflecting pressure to strip John Terry of the captain's armband after published reports of Terry's affair with the long-time girlfriend of England teammate Wayne Bridge, French underwear model Vanessa Peronncel. The British press has more gumption than us in dishing salacious stuff, because they aren't slaves to postgame sound bites and have a healthy skepticism toward professional athletes. Put it this way: If Tiger Woods resided in England, he would have been outed years ago.

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