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Casey Janssen pitches batting practice as recovery from shoulder surgery continues

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Casey Janssen throws a pitch in the bullpen during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013.

The Canadian Press

Continuing his rehab from off-season shoulder surgery, Jays closer Casey Janssen pitched a half-inning of batting practice on Thursday, using his fastball, slider and changeup from a windup and stretch positions.

When he next pitches depends how his shoulder feels Friday and Saturday. He's yet to throw a curve or cut fastball but says those pitches come naturally to him.

"It's really about the fastball and slowly trying to step on it," he said.

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Until Thursday's session, he hadn't faced batters this spring. With Opening Day 19 days away, the odds of him starting the season with the team are growing long.

"Every day is a new challenge," he said.

Toronto's other closer, Sergio Santos, threw 20 pitches on Wednesday though not in a Grapefruit League game. Opening Day?

"I would think so, barring any new setbacks," manager John Gibbons said.

Santos had mid-season shoulder surgery in 2012.

The availability of a closer is the most pressing issue for the Jays. In two weeks, they'll be flying to Philadelphia for a two-game final tune-up prior to Opening Day.

Santos isn't yet ready to throw in back-to-back games.

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