8/11/2013 5:49 P.M. ET
Janssen building solid year as shoulder improves
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Casey Janssen continues to navigate his way through a relatively flawless season despite having to deal with a shoulder that is less than 100 percent healthy.
Toronto's closer has converted all but two of his 23 save opportunities this year, while posting an impressive 2.41 ERA. He's struck out 35 and walked just nine with a 0.88 WHIP, and he has quietly become one of the more reliable late-inning relievers in the game.
Janssen hasn't required a stint on the 15-day disabled list, but it has still been a long road to recovery since he underwent offseason surgery to shave down the collarbone in his right shoulder.
"I'm managing it," Janssen said. "I think this whole season is going to be a grind, but I have more good days than bad days. Every once in a while, I'll wake up for no reason and not feel amazing, but no one feels amazing now that we're into August. I'm no different, but we're just coming out and competing."
During the early stages of the season, Janssen had to closely monitor the health of his shoulder. He originally wasn't expected to be ready before the end of Spring Training, but he recorded just enough innings at the end of camp to head north with the team.
Since then, Janssen has been forced to miss an occasional game, and manager John Gibbons prefers not to warm him up in the bullpen unless he's confident that his closer will get into the game. But besides that, Janssen has been able to pitch through occasional discomfort, knowing he won't be back to full health until the offseason.
Janssen, who is a proponent of the weighted-ball program to increase strength in the shoulder, will work through a rigorous exercise program in the offseason, but until then, it's more about maintenance and making sure he can take the ball whenever possible.
The bad days are becoming fewer and fewer, but there have still been moments during the season when Janssen has realized that his shoulder is not yet back to normal. Still, it's getting better, and that can only be viewed as a positive for this time of the year.
"More than anything, the warmup isn't taking as long to feel decent," said Janssen, who is tied with Mike Timlin for sixth place on the Blue Jays all-time saves list with 52. "Once I get on the mound -- adrenaline -- and I've thrown enough in the 'pen that I'm feeling good enough to go out there and give us a chance."
Happ to take hill early in rotation shakeup
TORONTO -- Left-hander J.A. Happ will take the mound one day earlier than expected after the Blue Jays made a series of changes to their starting rotation late Sunday afternoon.
Happ is now scheduled to start on Monday in Toronto's series finale against the A's. The decision came in part because Happ's grandfather recently passed away, and he is expected to depart after the start.
Right-hander Josh Johnson was originally scheduled to pitch on Monday, but he has now been pushed back until Wednesday. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Johnson could use some additional rest after he experienced right forearm tightness during his last start against Seattle.
"No, he's good. We don't think it's a big deal," Gibbons said when asked if Johnson could be in danger of missing additional time.
Happ will be making his start against Oakland on normal rest because of Toronto's off-day on Thursday. He is a candidate to be placed on the three-day bereavement list after Monday's game, which would create an open spot on the 25-man roster.
That spot would then likely be filled by right-hander Todd Redmond, who is scheduled to be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo for Tuesday's start against Boston. Esmil Rogers was expected to make that start, but instead has been moved back to the bullpen following his prolonged struggles on the mound.
Rogers was 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA over his past seven starts and hadn't won since June 18 against Colorado. He performed admirably when he first entered the rotation in late May, but appeared to be hitting a wall of late. He already thrown more innings this season than he did all of last year.
Reliever Perez nearing return to mound after setback
TORONTO -- Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez is once again nearing a return to the mound after suffering a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery earlier this season.
Perez underwent the procedure last July and was expected to be out of action for approximately 12 months. He returned to the mound in a rehab assignment on June 10, but experienced some discomfort after throwing two scoreless innings for Class A Dunedin and was promptly shutdown.
The 28-year-old then went through a brief period of rest and recovery before he was able to resume throwing. He has been working out at the Blue Jays' Minor League complex and another rehab assignment could begin as early as next week, according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
That would give Perez an opportunity to return to the Major Leagues before the end of the season. Perez is out of options, and Toronto would like to observe his progress in a big league setting in order to get a better feel for how he'll look next spring.
Perez was one of the more reliable relievers for former Blue Jays manager John Farrell in 2012. The Dominican native posted a 3.43 ERA while striking out 39 in 42 innings of work. With the likely departure of veteran left-hander Darren Oliver at the end of the season, Perez becomes the likely candidate to fill the void while joining fellow southpaws Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup in the bullpen.
Broadcaster Howarth honoured with Jack Graney Award
TORONTO -- Longtime radio broadcaster Jerry Howarth was presented with the 2012 Jack Graney Award prior to the Blue Jays' game on Sunday afternoon against the A's.
Howarth began working with the Blue Jays on a part-time basis in 1980, before eventually taking over full-time duties in 1982. He partnered with Hall of Fame broadcaster Tom Cheek for the next 23 seasons, and he was part of the broadcast crew during the 1992-93 World Series years.
Since then, his home run call, "And there she goes," has become synonymous with Blue Jays baseball, and he has called more than 5,000 games over the course of three decades.
"I am very honoured to be named the Jack Graney Award winner for 2012, joining a long list of notables including the gentleman who brought me to Toronto, Len Bramson, and the other gentleman I worked with in the radio booth for years in Tom Cheek. That makes this award particularly special for me," Howarth said in a statement provided by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Jack Graney Award is presented to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through his or her life's work.