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The Globe and Mail

‘Nothing given’ for Janssen, Happ despite Jays' win over BoSox

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Casey Janssen continues his battle at spring training to avoid demotion to the minors. (file photo)


One by one the lockers are being emptied in the Blue Jays clubhouse as players are sent down to the minor leagues. Those remaining were issued red workout t-shirts with white block letters reading, "Nothing is given, everything is earned."

Casey Janssen and J.A. Happ hardly need the reminders.

Janssen missed the 2008 season with a torn labrum, won the closer's role last May when the injured Sergio Santos exited, had more shoulder surgery this off-season, and made his first Grapefruit League appearance Friday, retiring three straight hitters in a 1-0 win over a Boston.

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"Another good step in the right direction, pitched aggressively and challenged my arm a little bit," Janssen said.

Happ, the odd-man out of the rotation if the Jays bring the struggling Ricky Romero north, allowed two hits and two walks in six innings, looking and sounding ready.

"How many more hours [per] days left?" he asked, wearily, adding: "This is not 'me versus anyone else.' It's just weighing on me a little bit."

Romero walked five Class-A hitters in a minor league game Thursday while Happ "felt great" with crisp mechanics and tempo as he worked ahead of most hitters Friday, which leaves the persistent spring training question intact. The Jays have stated all along that Romero is "our guy," though GM Alex Anthopoulos hedged on Thursday by indicating the situation will be evaluated.

"Everything is set now, we haven't discussed any of that," manager John Gibbons said Friday, after the game.

The pitchers faced a roster of mainly minor leaguers. Janssen's fastball ran at 89-90 mph, according to radar posted on the scoreboard, as he felt "about 85 per cent".

"I took a little extra time in the bullpen, maybe it wasn't as quick [getting ready] as for a regular game but I was working on some stuff," Janssen said. "The adreneline kicked in and I was able to get those three outs."

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Gibbons said in the morning that it's not a concern whether Janssen is able to pitch in back-to-back games in the Grapefruit League.

"I've had spring trainings when I have, and when I haven't," Janssen said. "When the lights went on, all the soreness went away. I think more than anything it has to do with the carry on the ball, then next day regardless of if it's in a game. If you can pitch aggressively, you're doing the same thing as being in a game."

Santos made his sixth appearance, allowing a leadoff walk then striking out the side, throwing his fastball at 94-95 mph.

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