Blue Jays trainer George Poulis sure must have had his room full; on the day Dustin McGowan learned that he has a tear in his rotator cuff, Vernon Wells was diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. Both are out at least a month.
We'll begin with McGowan, who could very well miss the remainder of the season. Fantasy owners, most likely, should prepare their pitching plans with the idea he probably will. The good news is that he'll avoid surgery to repair the tear, which according to the Blue Jays' official Web site was similar in nature to one discovered in an MRI on his shoulder taken late last season. But don't take that as basis for "how could they have kept it from us" thinking. As the team says, these things are commonplace.
"There was a tear last year, as most pitchers have," said assistant general manager Bart Given. "The tear at that point is consistent with the one this year. All I can say about McGowan is that it's really positive. If there was further damage to his tear, it would've been a long rehab process for him."
Wells, meanwhile, will miss 4-6 weeks with his hamstring strain, suffered while stealing third base during Wednesday's game. It's a significant blow to an already-weak offense; Wells was the team's leader in home runs (9), if you can believe that. He'll probably be back sometime in mid-to-late August, but in the meantime, Alex Rios will return to center field, while Adam Lind most likely will pick up everyday at-bats in left field. Brad Wilkerson should play right field against right-handers, though as of yet, the Blue Jays lack a realistic platoon mate for him with Kevin Mench off the roster.
Finally, and perhaps most distressing, Aaron Harang landed on the disabled list with a strained forearm. He was coming off his most troubling start all year, allowing six earned runs, walking seven batters and serving up two home runs in an ugly 4 1/3-inning outing against the Cubs on Tuesday. It's the walks -- and the 58 of 108 pitches he threw for strikes (a weak 53.7 percent) -- that are most disconcerting for a guy who in his 34 previous regular-season starts had not allowed more than three free passes in a game.
There's good news for Harang too, though, as an MRI exam came back normal, meaning he'll merely be shut down from throwing and re-examined in one week. In the best-case scenario, Harang's absence might not be much unlike Jake Peavy's earlier in the season, and he'll come back as close to his early-season form as Peavy did recently.
Justin Morneau, Twins
Morneau's 11th-inning home run proved to be the game winner and capped off a 5-for-5 day. He has four straight multihit games and is batting a season-best .324.
John Lackey, Angels
Lackey had his second consecutive poor outing, sticking around long enough to allow 15 hits, leading to six earned runs against the Rangers. Half of the 22 earned runs he's allowed this season have come in his past two starts.
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Phillies have expressed interest in the Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett, enough so that the Blue Jays have sent scouts to evaluate the Phillies' Double-A affiliate in Reading, Pa. Potential targets for the Blue Jays include outfielder Greg Golson, the Phillies' No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, catcher Lou Marson and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The Dodgers are also mentioned as another possible destination for Burnett, who can opt out of his current contract this winter. It's clear from the report that the Blue Jays will be shopping Burnett the remainder of the month, and the Phillies will be looking for a top-quality starting pitcher. That might put Erik Bedard in their sights as well. Tests taken Thursday morning revealed Moises Alou has a torn left hamstring that will likely require surgery, according to the Mets' official Web site. He's probably out for the season regardless of whether he has an operation, and might be done for his career. "It's going to be tough," said general manager Omar Minaya. "When you tear a hamstring in the middle of July, it would be pretty tough for him to return." Cross off the Dodgers as a potential suitor for free agent Barry Bonds' services. "No," said general manager Ned Colletti when asked whether the team might consider signing the all-time home run champ, according to the team's official Web site.
• The Indians officially released Joe Borowski on Thursday. This is probably the end of the line for him as far as being a closer goes, though he'll likely catch on elsewhere to work in mop-up relief. Suffice to say, you won't want him.
• Blast from the past: Bryan Bullington, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft, was claimed off waivers by the Indians and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Clearly he's never going to come close to his overwhelming potential at the time he was drafted, but Bullington could be useful rotation insurance for the Indians in the minors.
• Josh Johnson marked his return from Tommy John surgery when he was activated from the DL to start Thursday's game at the Dodgers. He allowed three runs on six hits in five innings, striking out six batters and walking none while throwing 56 of 87 pitches for strikes (64.4 percent). It's a good first start back for Johnson, who at the very least is worth matchups consideration in NL-only formats.
• The Tigers activated Brandon Inge from the DL and recalled Jeff Larish from Triple-A Toledo. Inge should continue to spot in at catcher, third base and left field, particularly against left-handers, while Larish might get the occasional start against a right-hander on Gary Sheffield's off day. Inge is the more appealing fantasy option.
• After weeks of rumors, the Mariners made it official on Thursday, releasing Richie Sexson. With his massive salary and underwhelming numbers (.218 BA, .696 OPS), he'll easily clear waivers and might latch on with another team after that to serve as a right-handed platoon mate at first base or DH. At best, he'll be a spot-start candidate for fantasy wherever he lands, and not a great one.
• This one's a shocker, better sit down: The Cardinals placed Mark Mulder on the DL with a strained left shoulder. No, this isn't a reprint from 2006 and/or 2007, it's a fresh injury, suffered after he threw 16 pitches in his first start of the season on Wednesday. Smart move, Cardinals, rushing him back into a starting role.
• Francisco Liriano managed his third consecutive scoreless outing, tossing seven innings of shutout, three-hit baseball for Triple-A Rochester. He's now 7-0 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in eight starts since the beginning of June, and his strikeout rate is rather healthy, too, at 53 in 49 2/3 innings during that span. One must wonder when the Twins will consider promoting Liriano, but it shouldn't be long after the All-Star break. He's a high-upside arm, but one concern rarely discussed is the possibility he might have his innings total monitored; he's up to 112 2/3 between the majors and minors this year.
• Daniel McCutchen continued to make a strong case for a promotion the next time the Yankees need another starter, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He's 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his past six starts, two of those complete-game shutouts, and has a 2.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 19 starts combined for the season between Double-A Trenton and Scranton.