4/26/2013 12:45 A.M. ET
Izturis staking claim to second-base job
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Maicer Izturis seems to have the early edge on the starting job at second base.
Izturis went to Spring Training competing for the job with utility man Emilio Bonifacio. Both were pressed into full-time duty when Brett Lawrie missed the start of the season with an oblique injury, but now that Toronto has its third baseman back, the competition has returned.
The Blue Jays haven't officially declared that Izturis is their everyday guy, but he has received the bulk of the work since April 16.
"Izzy has been more steady there," manager John Gibbons said. "We'll look at what they've done on the matchup against a pitcher on a given night. If somebody needs a day off, we can use Boni in the outfield or the infield."
Izturis was forced to miss Monday's game against Baltimore with a minor hamstring issue, but other than that he has started every game since Lawrie's return. Bonifacio, meanwhile, has started just five of those nine games, as the Blue Jays seem to be moving him into more of a super-utility role.
That could change, but for now Gibbons appears to like Izturis at second and feels as though he has started adjusting to his new surroundings after a rough start to the year.
"You see it all the time. Think back over the years of baseball, free-agent guys, even trades, sometimes it takes a little while to settle in," Gibbons said of Izturis, who signed a three-year deal this offseason. "You want to make everything look right, look good, make it a great trade. I think the tendency is [to] try a little too hard, press a little bit.
"The great players and just the good players, they all do it. We've had a few of those guys that are new faces in town, and I think that has affected a few of them."
Despite success, Janssen not at 100 percent
NEW YORK -- The overall numbers indicate otherwise, but closer Casey Janssen still isn't 100 percent healthy following offseason surgery on his right shoulder.
Janssen spent most of Spring Training going through an extensive rehab program, and he was at least somewhat questionable for the start of the season. It wasn't until the final two weeks of camp that he was able to get into a handful of games and receive clearance for Opening Day.
The 31-year-old is a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities this season, but that doesn't mean that everything has gone as planned, physically.
"There are days when it just doesn't feel good," said Janssen, whose collarbone was shaved down during the offseason. "You can't always play catch like you want to, or get loose as fast as you want to, but nothing that's going to set me back or re-injure [the shoulder].
"It's more if I could get a couple of ticks more on my velocity, if I could warm up a little bit ... I wouldn't say quicker, but more crisp, so it doesn't take as long to warm up."
Janssen has experienced a noticeable drop in velocity through the first three weeks of the season. His four-seam fastball and sinker have averaged 90 mph, according to Brooks Baseball, compared with 92 mph for both pitches last season.
But the drop has had no impact whatsoever on his early results. He has allowed just one run on three hits while striking out 11 in eight innings. Of his six saves, all but one have come as part of a three-up-three-down inning.
Despite the success, Janssen's tone during a meeting with reporters was somewhat downcast. He conceded that there were times this year he was forced to inform manager John Gibbons that he simply didn't feel well enough to go on that particular day.
Once he takes the mound, though, he has done whatever he can to put the injury woes and lengthy rehab behind him.
"I'm not thinking about it," he said. "Whatever you have that day is what you have, and you've got to pitch with what you've got. To look at the miles per hour is deflating enough, so I've stopped doing that. You've just got to pitch, and you read swings, you read the hitters' reactions and make pitches with your offspeed pitches.
"I don't know if I can be better, but I know my arm can feel better. You don't want to look too far into everything, because I've been good enough, but I'd like to say my arm can feel better."
After tough spring, Lincoln gets chance in the bigs
NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays recalled right-hander Brad Lincoln from Triple-A Buffalo prior to Thursday night's game against the Yankees.
The move came after it was announced that designated hitter Adam Lind had been placed on the paternity list. Lind is expected to be away until Sunday following the birth of his second child.
Lincoln gives the Blue Jays an eighth man in the bullpen for the four-game series at Yankee Stadium, and his promotion comes on the heels of what had been a frustrating Spring Training.
The 27-year-old was forced to deal with an injury to his right shoulder that cost him any shot of making the big league squad and has since been forced him to bide his time in the Minors while waiting for an opportunity.
"It's part of it," said Lincoln, who allowed four earned runs in eight innings for Buffalo. "You [can't] get upset about it. Don't hold a grudge against anybody or anything, just go down there and do what you need to do to get back to where you want to be, and I feel like I've done that."
It didn't take long for Lincoln to make his season debut. He was called into Thursday night's game against the Yankees during the sixth inning and retired the first two batters he faced, stranding a pair of runners. He then went back out for part of the seventh, and in total gave up one hit and one walk.
When Lincoln went to camp this year, Toronto was contemplating moving him into a starting role. That changed after just one outing, and now he finds himself back in the full-time relief role he had in Pittsburgh prior to the midseason trade last year.
The numbers would indicate that was a wise decision. Lincoln has a 3.38 ERA in 72 innings as a reliever compared with a 5.65 ERA in 116 1/3 innings as a starter. He came up through the Minors with the goal of being in the rotation but has since changed his line of thinking.
"I've come to realize it's not what you want to do, it's what you're good at," he said when asked if he has a preference. "If you look at my track record, starting and then relieving, there is a pretty drastic difference there, numbers-wise. I like coming out the 'pen and being able to go right after guys."