05/02/2013 8:56 PM ET
Janssen sings praises of weighted-ball program
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Right-hander Casey Janssen has become the latest Blue Jays pitcher to embrace the weighted-ball program designed to increase velocity and shoulder strength.
The Velocity Program was originally designed by Jamie Evans and has been credited with helping reliever Steve Delabar return from a fractured right elbow.
Janssen began using a modified version of the program during an April road trip to Detroit. The workout routine has been picking up steam over the past year with more Major Leaguers deciding to take part, and it was a series of recommendations that eventually won over Janssen.
"I didn't want to be the guinea pig of it, but it was obviously interesting," said Janssen, who underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason. "Then I had some people that I trusted who did the program and said they felt great. Regardless of velocity, all you really want to do is feel good. If you get velocity, then great. So I figured, why not?"
The workout routine involves a series of weighted balls. Pitchers use various holds and also go through their throwing motion without actually releasing the ball. The in-season routine is less taxing on the shoulder and more about maintenance and recovery, while the offseason program is more intense.
Left-hander Brett Cecil went through the weighted-ball program this offseason, and after spending the past couple of years throwing in the high-80s he has crept up to the 93-95 mph range. Former Toronto reliever Jason Frasor also adopted the program this offseason, while former Blue Jays manager John Farrell recently said his sons now take part in it as well.
Evans visited the Blue Jays' clubhouse last offseason to explain how everything works. That piqued the interest of Janssen, and after a series of his current and former teammates went through the program, he wanted to give it a chance.
"The toll of a Major League pitcher compared to high school teenagers is different, but after I saw some results from some friends, I thought, 'What the heck?" Janssen said of the program that was originally used by a lot of younger players but is now seeing its base grow.
"I wasn't going to do it initially, and then obviously with the shoulder injury, you're looking for ways to feel better. From watching some of these guys play catch and how good they feel day in and day out, you'd be crazy if it didn't interest you."
Gibbons trying to settle on set batting order
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons would like to bring an end to the constant lineup shuffling that went on for the first month of the season and settle on a set batting order.
Gibbons has used 26 different lineups through 29 games this season. A lot of the changes were because of injuries to Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista, but Gibbons also has been attempting to find the right mix for a clearly struggling offense.
Gibbons unveiled another batting order for Thursday night's game, which saw the return of Adam Lind to the No. 2 hole, and it's one he hopes to stick with for the foreseeable future.
"I've been juggling it a lot more than I ever wanted to," Gibbons said. "I like what Lindy's doing right now. Move J.P. [Arencibia] back into that fifth slot, now you've got Bautista, [Edwin] Encarnacion and him.
"They can all do some damage with one swing of the bat, and then we'll just run with this for awhile, leave it like that. You never want the back-and-forth, things like that. Even though I don't necessarily think it's a big deal, sometimes it can be. You want to create some stability, but we've been going through our struggles and you want to try something that will spark something."
The No. 2 spot was supposed to be the position where left fielder Melky Cabrera would shine in front of Bautista and Encarnacion. That clearly hasn't been the case this season, as the former All-Star entered play on Thursday hitting just .243 with a .580 OPS.
Lind isn't the prototypical two-hole hitter, but Gibbons is desperately searching for someone who can get on base for the heart of his batting order. That's something Toronto's first baseman/designated hitter has been able to do a lot of this season.
The Indiana native started Thursday with an impressive .405 on-base percentage. The other numbers haven't necessarily been there, as he is batting just .234 (11-for-47) with a .701 OPS, but Gibbons feels as though there have been signs of late that the overall production is about to change.
"I like the way he's swinging the bat. I think it's just a matter of time before he really explodes," Gibbons said. "He's up there, he's looking for a pitch to hit -- and that's a big thing -- and he's not afraid to hit with some strikes on him, which is what all of the good ones do. That's confidence, too. He's very confident right now."