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Janssen's success anchors back of bullpen

Janssen's success anchors back of bullpen

TORONTO -- There wasn't much for Casey Janssen to do Wednesday night other than watch his team rendered helpless at the plate in a 7-0 loss against the White Sox.

It's not to say that the 31-year-old hasn't made an impact on the Blue Jays, but he matters most when the adrenaline is highest and he has three outs to keep the door closed on an opposing team.

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"I've relied a lot on my command, hitting my spots. I've been good at it," the Blue Jays closer said. "One way or another, it seems to be getting outs."

He's recorded a save in 26 of his past 28 chances, dating back to May 9, 2012, when he took over the role. Janssen is still convinced he can feel even better physically as he continues to nurse his way back from a routine off-season shoulder surgery.

"I'm feeling better, but it's totally not completely gone. There's days were it's like ..." Janssen trailed off, motioning that things are so-so. "They're becoming less and less. That's nice. My velocity's slowly starting to creep up a little bit.

"You have to be a special pitcher to be able to pitch at 88 to 90 mph and do it when the game's on the line."

Janssen is a stark contrast to those he took the duties from. First, the hard-throwing Sergio Santos, whose season was cut short a year ago, and then, struggling veteran Francisco Cordero. By all counts, the California native caught a lucky break when he inherited the role.

"It's nice to have a role and have a place on this team," Janssen said. "Then it's just a matter of going out and continuing to earn that opportunity."

It's a welcomed change to arrive at work knowing that his methodical personality is well-served in the ninth inning.

He sits in the same corner spot every night on the Rogers Centre bullpen bench. He stretches at the same time, in the same way. He takes the same path around the perimeter of the mound after striking out an opposing hitter. He's also learned to recognize the signals his body sends him as he gets older and his responsibilities change.

"You don't necessarily long toss everyday; you throw to tolerance every day. You don't work out because you know a workout in the weight room might not benefit you as much as it should or could," he said. "You pick and choose your battles on a daily basis. You stretch a lot, you get treatment. I'm sure the trainers are sick of me right now."

Janssen entered Thursday's series finale against the White Sox with a 1.80 ERA, four saves and eight strikeouts. Toronto's bullpen ranked seventh in the Majors with 49 strikeouts entering play on Thursday and it pitched the second most innings with 55 1/3.

"We've got a lot of talented guys down there," Janssen said. "We've got experience with a guy like Darren [Oliver] and now Ramon [Ortiz]. We've got some talented young arms, where it seems like their arms feel great every day.

"We have a lot of combinations and a lot of ways to get guys out. We're not necessarily giving the other team the same look with every guy that comes out. We might bring out a left-hander, but it's a completely different left-hander than the other one. Same with our rightys."

Steph Rogers is a contributor to MLB.com. Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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