Reports: Casey Janssen To Be Ready For Opening Day


February 14, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Casey Janssen (44) throws a pitch as he works out during spring training at Bobby Mattick Training Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsBoth John Lott at the National Post and Brendan Kennedy at The Star are reporting that Toronto Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen is still seen as having a chance to be ready by Opening Day.

Janssen’s name came up in a discussion with Toronto manager John Gibbons on Tuesday, and the news was music to the ears Blue Jays fans.

"“Barring a setback, Casey should be fine. He won’t be ready to knock off three games in a row—he won’t be in that kind of setup—but if everything goes from here on out accordingly he should be ready to go.”"

That is a somewhat steep departure from where most fans thought Janssen was in terms of progress. The 31-year-old right-hander made his spring debut in a minor league game and followed that up with a bullpen session on Tuesday, but has yet to throw in a Major League contest this spring. If all goes as planned, that may come as early as Friday, which would pit Janssen against the visiting Red Sox.

After becoming the closer in mid-May, Janssen authored a career year, posting a 1-1 record with a 2.54 ERA and a K/9 ratio of 9.5. He converted 22 of 25 save opportunities.

The news of his health is encouraging to the Blue Jays, who have also considered former closer Sergio Santos for the role. Santos himself has enjoyed a solid spring and having a healthy 1-2 combination of Santos and Janssen at the back end of games will help alleviate a lot of stress in camp, especially considering the struggles of other relievers this spring.

The interesting thing noted by Gibbons is that Janssen may not be asked to handle back-to-back outings right out of the gate, which leaves the need to possibly turn to Santos in that role. If both men excel out of the gate, it could create a possible point of contention, but one that should be easily dealt with.

Two weeks ago, Jays Journal conducted a poll where readers were asked if the Blue Jays should name Santos the closer in light of Janssen’s health concerns. At that time, over 70% felt that Santos should be the guy.

With this latest news, has that changed some minds?