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Janssen could be cleared to throw soon

Janssen could be cleared to throw

ANAHEIM -- Over the past four months, Blue Jays pitcher Casey Janssen has endured the monotonous grind of injury rehabilitation. It'd be understandable if Janssen tried to stray from the routine, opting to pick up a baseball to test his recovering right shoulder.

Janssen said that type of temptation hasn't been an issue.

"Honestly, no," Janssen said. "Nothing I could convince myself to do would be worth the setback. Obviously, I'm not with the team, but I'm really treating this rehab like it's a job. I'm not taking any shortcuts, because I know where I want to get back to."

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Toronto's pitching staff is the destination, and the journey back is about to include another turn. On Saturday, Janssen met with arm specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum, who instructed the pitcher to rest for another week or two before beginning to throw for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn labrum on March 18.

"If everything goes well, I should be cleared to pick up a ball," Janssen said prior to the meeting with Yocum, who performed the pitcher's surgery. "I'm pretty confident that we're going to get the go-ahead just from the way I feel and just the success I'm having with the exercises and everything."

Since Janssen, who lives near Los Angeles, last joined up with the team in Anaheim for Toronto's series at the end of May, the 26-year-old pitcher has continued to increase the intensity of his strength workouts. Janssen is looking forward to adding a throwing program to his routine.

When that time comes, Janssen will begin playing light catch, throwing 15 times from a distance of 30 feet for starters. From there on out, Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said Janssen would be put on a gradual program with the goal of having the pitcher ready by Spring Training.

Arnsberg said, barring any setbacks, Janssen -- Toronto's primary setup man last year, when he posted a 2.34 ERA over a bullpen-leading 72 2/3 innings -- would slowly progress his throwing up to a distance of 120 feet before beginning side sessions on flat ground.

At that point, Janssen would stop throwing, resuming again in December in preparation for the spring and the 2009 season.

"He's pretty much on schedule," Arnsberg said. "They were hoping that he would throw around four months, but he's not going to be a guy that we're trying to get ready for September."

On Friday, Arnsberg also had the opportunity to play catch with Jays reliever Jeremy Accardo, who met with Yocum on Saturday, as well. Accardo has been sidelined with a strained right forearm since May 10 and was examined to make sure there was no ligament damage in his arm.

Yocum determined that Accardo's injury was not related to the ligaments around the elbow, meaning there's no need for season-ending Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, which was a worst-case scenario. Just from playing catch with Accardo, Arnsberg didn't believe that procedure would be necessary.

Accardo -- on pace to perhaps rejoin the Jays within two or three weeks -- threw off a mound on Thursday and then with Arnsberg in a long-toss session on Friday, working up to a distance of 140 feet. Arnsberg said such activities were out of the question when he was in need of Tommy John surgery during his pitching career.

"If that arm needs a Tommy John, then there's something wrong," Arnsberg said before Accardo was examined by Yocum. "When I would throw a bullpen before I had to have the surgery, that next day I didn't even want to look at a baseball, let alone go out and throw long toss at 140 feet.

"I'm hoping that he gets a clean bill from Dr. Yocum and we can continue trying to hammer away on his throwing program."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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