6/23/2013 4:30 P.M. ET
Janssen strives for perfection each time out
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Casey Janssen has been a stabilizing force in the Blue Jays' bullpen all season long, despite recovering from offseason shoulder surgery that shaved down his collarbone.
Earlier in the year, the club was very cautious with the use of their closer, avoiding back-to-back appearances. For the most part, that is a thing of the past. Janssen has pitched in three consecutive games, making it three appearances in the last four days, with the off-day on Thursday.
The reliever refused to comment on whether he might step on the mound on Sunday, because it gives the Orioles a competitive advantage. But he did provide some insight into how his recovering shoulder feels.
"It's feeling better," Janssen said. "Every day is working towards making it feel a hundred percent more often. I think with consistent work, it helps -- and then getting an occasional rest day, it helps.
"I don't want to make it more than it is, because I'm pitching. I'm thinking about it less. But, at the same time, you still want to exercise caution at times, at the right times, to make sure there's no setback or no different discomfort that might linger."
Even with a shoulder that is still healing, Janssen has managed to save 17 games out of his 18 chances, with a 2.10 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .159 opponents' batting average, and 24 strikeouts in his 25 2/3 innings. Despite this, he isn't completely satisfied with how he's performed.
"From a personal level, I've done OK," Janssen said. "I hate to say it, but you want to be pretty darn close to perfect. You want to execute every pitch as best you can and eliminate mistakes."
Oddly enough, it was a conversation with former Blue Jays starter Josh Towers that changed Janssen's mental approach to pitching.
"Josh Towers told me, 'If you can hit down and away once, you should be able to do it every time,'" Janssen said. "'Nothing's changing, other than you mechanically, if you can master down and away, or down and in, or up. If you can master that pitch, you should be able to do it every time.'"
For the 31-year-old, it's perfection that he strives for every time he steps on the mound -- even though he knows that, over time, he's unlikely to maintain that level of dominance.
"You don't want to settle for mediocre," Janssen said. "I want to set the bar as high as I can and try to achieve [perfection]. If I don't, hopefully I'm pretty darn close to it."
DeRosa marvels at Blue Jays' win streak
TORONTO -- Mark DeRosa has been around baseball a long time, but he can't remember a streak quite like this one.
DeRosa, who made his Major League debut in 1998 with Atlanta, says the 10-game winning streak the Blue Jays find themselves on entering Sunday is new to even him.
"I don't remember one longer," the 38-year-old said. "We certainly needed it. What a way to get ourselves right back into relevance, after a horrendous April."
Toronto's opening month was far below what the club and pundits alike expected after a significant revamping of the roster in the offseason. The Blue Jays were 10-17 in April and, until Friday, were never even at .500, let alone above it.
However, this stretch has put the Blue Jays right back into the thick of things. Toronto is now tied with Tampa Bay for fourth place in the American League East, and sit just four games back of Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot.
"It feels great -- the way we expected coming out of Spring Training," DeRosa said. "Not to win 10 in a row, but to show up to the yard every day -- and feeling like we have a really good chance at putting a 'W' on the board."
The biggest difference in June for the club has been contributions from the entire team. There are plenty of examples to point to just from the first two games vs. the Orioles -- from Munenori Kawasaki's game-tying home run and Rajai Davis' clutch walk-off single on Friday, to Chien-Ming Wang's solid outing and Jose Bautista's go-ahead homer the following day.
"Obviously, we've had a lot of contributions from a lot of people," DeRosa said. "I think that's what it takes at the end of the year, when you look back on it. It's not just going to take 25 guys, it's going to take at least 30-35 guys to get it done."
With this stretch, the Blue Jays have, in a way, verified why there was so much optimism before the season began.
"I think they knew," DeRosa said when asked if this was validation to the baseball world that his club was playing like it should be. "I think they knew the amount of talent that Alex [Anthopoulos] and his staff acquired."
However, for DeRosa, there isn't one turning point that started the club in the right direction.
"I just think it's a testimony to our togetherness, to our belief in each other, having respect for what we do and coming to work with the idea that we were going to right the ship," DeRosa said. "It remains to be seen what happens from this point on, but certainly it made us a lot more mentally tough."
Lind's torrid stretch key to Blue Jays' turnaround
TORONTO -- Even Adam Lind doesn't want to beat a dead horse when it comes to his continued production at the plate, referring to himself as overexposed a couple of days ago.
However, that hasn't stopped other teammates from commenting on his torrid stretch.
"The nicest thing that's happened has been the re-emergence of Adam Lind," said Mark DeRosa. "He solidified that No. 4 slot for Gibby [manager John Gibbons], gives protection to Eddy [Edwin Encarnacion] and Jose [Bautista], and has really done an amazing job for us."
Lind hit .346 in May, and is swinging at a .392 clip in June entering play on Sunday. Coming into the finale with the O's, he had an on-base percentage of .406, with 10 home runs, 30 RBIs and a .970 OPS -- with almost all of that damage coming since the calendar turned to May.
Lind's return to this high level of performance has meant a lot to the club -- and has been a big part of its turnaround.
"It deepens your lineup so much," DeRosa said. "Adam has certainly been one of the better hitters in the American League, right now. Having to go through Melky [Cabrera], [Bautista], and [Encarnacion] and him, and the guys behind those four, makes for a tough afternoon. "
Blue Jays ink five more draftees
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays announced on Sunday that they have signed five more players selected in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Toronto inked first baseman L.B. Dantzler, Canadian right-handed pitcher Sean Ratcliffe, shortstop Christian Vasquez, and a pair of left-handed pitchers in Scott Silverstein and Matt Dermody. The highest pick of those signed was Dantzler, who was selected in the 14th round.
With the signings, that brings the total to 21 players with whom the Blue Jays have come to terms from this year's Draft.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.