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07/18/12 1:25 PM ET

McGowan stays determined in face of setbacks

NEW YORK -- Every day must feel like Groundhog Day for injured right-hander Dustin McGowan.

McGowan is currently rehabbing from a right shoulder injury at the Blue Jays Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla. That location has become his home away from home after spending most of the past four years there working through various injuries.

The 30-year-old has undergone multiple surgeries on his right shoulder and a procedure on his right knee, but with the exception of a five-game stint at the big league level in 2011 he has yet to find any type of prolonged success.

"[He] continues to forge ahead," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "His personal resolve has not wavered. His work ethic, his determination is there. Certainly he has dealt with a lot of frustration because of what he has gone through, but he's still trying to get past the discomfort."

McGowan entered this Spring Training as the favorite to win the fifth spot in the starting rotation. That plan came unglued late in camp when he was shut down because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

While rehabbing that injury in Florida, the discomfort in his right shoulder resurfaced. He has attempted to start throwing on multiple occasions since the beginning of the year but has been unable to settle into any type of routine because of the lingering pain.

For now, he continues to go through regular exercises and a weight training program in an effort to get back on the mound, but there is no return in sight.

"There's a constant rehab going on with the shoulder," Farrell said. "When he gets to the point of putting a ball in his hand, there are days when he feels OK and there are days when he feels it and has been shut down to continue to address the strengthening."

McGowan has a 20-24 record with a 4.80 ERA in parts of five seasons at the big league level.

Gose bats leadoff in first career start

NEW YORK -- Anthony Gose got the first start of his Major League career on Wednesday afternoon when the Blue Jays closed out a three-game series against the Yankees.

Gose, who was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, made his big league debut later that night when he came into the game as a pinch-hitter during the seventh inning of the Blue Jays' 6-1 loss.

Toronto typically inserts its rookies into the bottom of the order, but manager John Farrell opted to put Gose into the leadoff spot and said it was a relatively easy decision to make.

"This is a spot in the lineup that he has been very familiar with," Farrell said of the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect, as ranked by MLB.com. "The way we've gotten to know Anthony through the last couple of Spring Trainings, he's a guy that's confident in himself, he's strong of mind and I don't feel like this environment will be that intimidating for him, so I'm going to throw him right in the fire."

Gose spent the vast majority of his Minor League career hitting leadoff and provides the Blue Jays with an element of speed at the top of the order. He had 29 stolen bases in 39 attempts for Las Vegas after stealing 70 in 137 games last season with Double-A New Hampshire.

That could become a key weapon for Farrell to use as his offense attempts to find alternate ways to score runs with Jose Bautista currently on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist injury. Gose combines with the speedy Rajai Davis and Brett Lawrie to give the club a well-rounded attack.

"The biggest thing would be to get on base first to utilize the speed," Farrell said. "But we do have some guys that can really run that are well above average, not only in terms of speed, but have track records of being able to steal a base.

"Rajai obviously speaks for itself at the Major League level, Anthony's had a lot of success at the Minor League level and yet he's getting his feet wet here. Depending on certain situations, we'll certainly turn him loose, but the speed definitely does give us another dimension."

Gose recorded his first Major League hit on Tuesday night with a bunt single in the ninth inning against Clay Rapada. The 21-year-old hit .292 with five homers and 41 RBIs in 92 games for Las Vegas this season.

Johnson weathering rough patch after hot start

NEW YORK -- Second baseman Kelly Johnson has fallen on hard times since carrying the Blue Jays during the early stages of the year.

Johnson was one of the club's most valuable hitters during the first two months of the season. He hit .250 with an impressive .352 on-base percentage while also posting eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 43 games.

That's when he suffered a left hamstring injury, and he hasn't quite been the same since. Johnson has just two home runs and six doubles during the ensuing 41 games while posting a .227 average.

"There have been times where he squares some balls up that he's not getting any payoff for," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "There are times when it looks like he is sitting on a certain pitch and he's not getting the pitch he's looking for, which leads him into a caught-in-between area. It's like he's out in front on some changeups, behind on some fastballs."

Johnson, who is a free agent at the end of the season, has an overall average of .240 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs this year.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.