If good things happen to those who wait, Dustin McGowan is in for a happy ride. The oft-injured right-hander waited until the final spring game at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium before making it to the mound in what is his umpteenth comeback attempt. It was impressive enough as McGowan had a 1-2-3 inning, needing just 14 pitches, eight of them for strikes. He opened with a first-pitch strike — a 92 m.p.h. heater and on another hit 93 on the gun. This spring McGowan has pitched against hitters in a controlled game and one minor-league game before going up against the Pirates on Tuesday. Having sniffed the finish line on a few occasions in other comeback bids the past four years, McGowan wasn’t dancing with delight after this one but it offered some hope. How he feels on Wednesday and the day after will be a bigger test as will how he feels after every time he pitches from here on out. Perseverance, though, is his middle name. “It’s just good to be back out there and it was a lot of fun today,” McGowan said. A little revved up? “A little bit. That’s how I want to be,” he said. “I want to have energy out there. “I want to be excited. I don’t want it in the back of my mind thinking: ‘What if?’” Stuff-wise he said he felt good as was his tempo. Manager John Gibbons is one of his biggest supporters. “We’re excited because we’re going to be counting on him and the sooner the better,” he said. “It’s a big step for him given everything he’s been through.” McGowan, though, will not be heading north with the team. He is nowhere near ready for that. “No, he won’t be ready to start the season but it could be where it’s not too long afterwards,” Gibbons said. “We’ve got to make sure he’s good and ready. The way his history has been, we don’t want to rush him.”