Casey Janssen doesn’t have a date circled on his calendar for his return to the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup.
The Toronto closer is dealing with a left abdominal/lower back problem that sent him to the disabled list March 30, the eve of the Jays’ season opener.
“It’s just a day-by-day thing,” Janssen said Saturday of his return.
He says he plans to push as hard as he can go, but does not want to set a rigid timeline that might lead to disappointment — or headlines.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he explained. “We don’t want to have dates where either I or you (media) guys or anyone else wants to have as a deadline or a certain date, where if I don’t make it that day then it’s breaking news or something like that.”
Coming after a pre-season that saw him pitch just three innings as he protected his shoulder, it all means that Janssen is a long way off from where he hoped to be.
“I’m starting to trust it a lot more,” he said of the problem oblique muscle. “I’m starting to be a lot more active on it. The recovery is quicker, I guess. If I’m active on it, within a few hours it (the discomfort) is probably gone. You wake up with a fresh start every day which is nice.
“I’ve just got to continue to progress. The further we get away from that Montreal date, the healthier it’s going to get.”
The Montreal date was the late March finale to the Toronto pre-season. Janssen felt something as he was warming up to go in against the New York Mets, but didn’t think it was anything more than a “tight something.”
“Never did I imagine I’d be sitting here in late April having not thrown a pitch,” he said.
The days after, however, he knew it was something more than tightness.
Janssen is slated to throw a bullpen session Sunday, with another planned a few days later. A rehab assignment in the minors will follow. He has already had one of those shut down mid-month when it was determined he needed further rest.
“I can’t wait to throw (the bullpen session), I’m excited,” he said. “Hopefully there’s no looking back.”
As frustrated as he is by the inactivity, the 32-year-old right-hander understands patience is needed.
“Being in the position where I pitch in a game, you’ve got to be good,” he said. “You don’t want to let the team down by figuring it out up here.
“So I want to be clicking once I get up here ... At the end of the day, my arm’s got to be able to bounce back, do the things I’m asked to do here and then also have my side tested enough where, the same thing, I’m not getting special treatment when I’m ready.”
Janssen, who converted 34-of-36 save opportunities last season. says he only feels the injury occasionally in his day-to-day life. But given the importance of the body’s trunk to throwing, it is like Kryptonite to a pitcher.
“There’s no injury that’s fun,” he said. “This one seems to take lot more time, even when there’s no extreme pain.”
Sergio Santos has assumed the role of closer in Janssen’s absence.