2/26/2013 5:20 P.M. ET
Janssen still throwing off flat ground
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen is focused on getting things right off of flat ground before he steps back onto a mound.
Janssen, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, stopped throwing off a mound last week and had instead opted to do all of his work in the outfield grass.
The goal is to build up his arm strength without the added concern of locating pitches or facing live batters.
"I just want to get back to throwing hard on flat ground," Janssen said. "We think the transition to the mound is going to be really, really quick. We're trying to extend the reps and the velocity, and then that transition will be fast."
Janssen began the spring by throwing off a mound. He wasn't going at 100 percent, but there were still some concerns expressed by pitching coach Pete Walker. The belief was Janssen was focusing too much on his mechanics as opposed to just getting his arm loose and back to full strength.
That prompted last week's change. It could be viewed as a setback, but Janssen is at least publicly optimistic that he will be ready for Opening Day. Despite that, he did admit that it was comforting to know that the Blue Jays have a capable replacement in Sergio Santos who could start the year in the closer's role and buy Janssen a little more time to get ready.
"It's weird, we're talking about time and dates, but we haven't even hit March yet," said Janssen, who recorded 22 saves in 25 opportunities last year. "Sure, there's going to come a point when you're pressed for time to make Opening Day realistic, but I don't think we've hit that date yet.
"Not that we even want to consider it, but if it's a week or two late, it's not the end of the world, either. It's only fair to the team and fair to myself. You don't want to underachieve because of something else or because you took a shortcut."
Sinker key if Romero is to return to form
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- When Ricky Romero is effective on the mound, it's usually because he's locating his sinker and inducing a lot of ground-ball outs.
That's something he got away from last year during a nightmarish season in which he posted a 9-14 record and career-worst 5.77 ERA. As the struggles got worse, he began throwing the sinker less and less.
It's not something he really noticed until Brandon Morrow arrived at Spring Training with a sheet of information from BrooksBaseball.net. The chart showed Romero went from utilizing his sinker 22 percent of the time in 2011 all the way down to 11 percent the following year.
"I was kind of amazed by it, it dropped significantly," Romero said. "I felt like last year I kind of abandoned that pitch. I used to throw that pitch 1-0, 2-0, it didn't matter, just get those ground-ball outs.
"I think it's going to be key and that's why I'm going to stick with it this spring. If I get hit, I get hit, but I know I'm working on that pitch and I know if it's down, it's going to be a ground-ball out more often than not."
Romero almost exclusively threw sinkers during his spring debut on Tuesday afternoon against the Twins. The results were mixed, as he was able to throw just 17 of his 36 pitches for strikes while surrendering a pair of runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The performance this time of the year, though, doesn't really matter. Romero is saving his four-seam fastball and curveball for later this spring. Those two pitches aren't the priority right now. He wants to perfect the sinker so when April rolls around he can get back to the pitcher he was in 2011 when he posted 2.92 ERA in 225 innings.
"It's one of those things where I think maybe we got caught up in throwing the cutter more because it was so successful in 2011," Romero said. "But looking back at it, everything builds off that sinker. If you're able to command that down and away, it opens up that inner half, and I think at times I didn't give myself a chance."
Sportsnet attracts record numbers for spring game
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It's only Spring Training, but already Blue Jays fans are showing up in record numbers.
Sportsnet recorded its largest audience ever for a Grapefruit League game on Saturday afternoon by attracting an average of 456,000 viewers for the game against the Tigers.
In total, there were more than two million Canadians who watched at least part of the spring broadcast according to BBM Canada PPM Data. The 456,000 average marks a 20 percent increase over the previous high for an exhibition game.
Sportsnet is set to cover an additional six spring games while FX Canada also will air five games.