TORONTO -- Right-hander Casey Janssen has become the latest Blue Jays pitcher to embrace the weighted-ball program designed to increase velocity and shoulder strength.
The Velocity Program was originally designed by Jamie Evans and has been credited with helping reliever Steve Delabar return from a fractured right elbow.
Janssen began using a modified version of the program during an April road trip to Detroit. The workout routine has been picking up steam over the past year with more Major Leaguers deciding to take part, and it was a series of recommendations that eventually won over Janssen.
"I didn't want to be the guinea pig of it, but it was obviously interesting," said Janssen, who underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason. "Then I had some people that I trusted who did the program and said they felt great. Regardless of velocity, all you really want to do is feel good. If you get velocity, then great. So I figured, why not?"
The workout routine involves a series of weighted balls. Pitchers use various holds and also go through their throwing motion without actually releasing the ball. The in-season routine is less taxing on the shoulder and more about maintenance and recovery, while the offseason program is more intense.
Left-hander Brett Cecil went through the weighted-ball program this offseason, and after spending the past couple of years throwing in the high-80s he has crept up to the 93-95 mph range. Former Toronto reliever Jason Frasor also adopted the program this offseason, while former Blue Jays manager John Farrell recently said his sons now take part in it as well.
Evans visited the Blue Jays' clubhouse last offseason to explain how everything works. That piqued the interest of Janssen, and after a series of his current and former teammates went through the program, he wanted to give it a chance.
"The toll of a Major League pitcher compared to high school teenagers is different, but after I saw some results from some friends, I thought, 'What the heck?" Janssen said of the program that was originally used by a lot of younger players but is now seeing its base grow.
"I wasn't going to do it initially, and then obviously with the shoulder injury, you're looking for ways to feel better. From watching some of these guys play catch and how good they feel day in and day out, you'd be crazy if it didn't interest you."