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Blue Jays place closer Casey Janssen on 15-day disabled list

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Casey Janssen (44) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Park.

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays won't have their usual closer available for the start of the regular season.

Casey Janssen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday due to a strain in his left abdominal area and lower back. Fellow right-hander Sergio Santos will take over the closer's role while Janssen is out of the lineup.

Janssen, 4-1 with 34 saves and a 2.56 earned-run average last year, was limited at spring training because of shoulder soreness. But on Friday, he felt some minor discomfort in his lower back while warming up during a pre-season game against the New York Mets in Montreal.

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An MRI exam revealed a mild strain, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Sunday on a conference call.

"We don't expect him to be out too long," Anthopoulos said. "There was a scenario where we could have just waited maybe five or six days and try to get him back going. But we want to just have this thing resolved and not nag at him."

The move was retroactive to Saturday.

Janssen, 32, allowed one earned run and four hits in three innings over three pre-season appearances. He's expected to throw on flat ground to keep his arm in shape before trying to pitch from a mound.

The Blue Jays also recalled catcher Erik Kratz from triple-A Buffalo on Sunday, a day ahead of Toronto's season opener at Tampa Bay. Kratz hit .400 in spring training and had been sent to minor-league camp earlier in the week after losing the backup job to Josh Thole.

Santos, 30, made 29 appearances for the Blue Jays last season. He was 1-1 with one save and a 1.75 ERA.

Also Sunday, former reliever Dustin McGowan pitched a simulated game and Anthopoulos said it appears he'll be ready to start Friday against the New York Yankees.

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"He's done so well," Anthopoulos said. "We don't expect any changes at all. So far, so good. He felt good, felt strong, and we expect him to be good to go for Opening Day in Toronto."

McGowan, 32, was named to the starting rotation earlier in the week. The right-hander made his debut with the Blue Jays in 2005 but has battled injuries throughout his career.

McGowan had a 2.45 ERA in 25 appearances last season and did not record a decision or a save.

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