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The Blue Jays aren't sure if or when Dustin McGowan will return to a major league mound following arthroscopic shoulder surgery. ((Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press))

The Toronto Blue Jays want to see things through with injured pitcher Dustin McGowan.

McGowan, who hasn't pitched since having shoulder surgery in June to repair a torn rotator cuff, agreed to a one-year deal worth $450,000 US ahead of Thursday's midnight ET deadline for tendering players contracts for 2011.

If he had not been re-signed Thursday, the 28-year-old right-hander would have become a free agent.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos clearly doesn't want a repeat of the Chris Carpenter situation from 2002.

Carpenter, who broke into the majors with Toronto in 1997, made three trips to the disabled list in the 2002 season before he was shut down for good in August after posting a 4-5 record and 5.28 earned-run average.

Then Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi removed Carpenter from the 40-man roster and offered him a minor league incentive deal. The pitcher refused, became a free agent and signed on with the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he won the National League Cy Young award as the top pitcher in 2005. He won 16 games for the Cardinals this past season.

As for McGowan, Anthopoulos told reporters in the summer that the pitcher would return to a major league mound in 2011 at the earliest, and perhaps not even be 2012.

Return unclear

Although McGowan recently began a throwing program, there is no timetable for his return.

"The fact there is a procedure that could be done and that could help him, that's the good news," Anthopoulos said in June. "There is still room for improvement there and some things we can do from a medical standpoint to help the player and hopefully get him back on the field."

McGowan's 2008 season was cut short after 19 starts (6-7, 4.37), as he required surgery to repair a fraying labrum in his right shoulder. Damaged cartilage in his right knee further delayed his comeback.

In parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, McGowan sports a mark of 20-22 with a 4.71 ERA.

Toronto relief pitcher Jeremy Accardo is another non-tender candidate. He spent most of last season with the AAA Las Vegas 51s while earning $1.08 million and might have fallen out of favour with Blue Jays management.

The Jays have nine salary arbitration-eligible players left on the roster, including outfielder Fred Lewis, who earned $455,000 last season and may be expendable after the team traded for former Oakland Athletics outfielder Rajai Davis last month.

The list of other arbitration-eligible Blue Jays includes outfielder/third baseman Jose Bautista, starting pitchers Shaun Marcum, Brandon Morrow and Jesse Litsch, relief pitchers Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen, along with shortstop Yunel Escobar.