Janssen looking to stay as Blue Jays' closer
Right-hander has been bright spot since claiming job in Spring Training
TORONTO -- In a Blue Jays season that hasn't lived up to preseason expectations, Casey Janssen has been a bright spot.
Toronto's closer has remained nearly perfect in save situations this season, and his $4 million club option for 2014 seems like a bargain for the club.
"The focus is always on staying healthy, finishing strong, and putting yourself in a position that the front office, and the eyes that are on you, are satisfied with you as a product," Janssen said.
The Blue Jays are 13 games below .500 following Friday night's 3-2 win over the Royals, so outside of playing spoiler, there is a lot to build on personally.
For the 31-year-old Janssen, it's about making sure that his role is secure in the organization.
"From a personal standpoint to continue to pitch well and hopefully come into Spring Training as the closer of the team without any doubt," Janssen said of his goals.
After entering Spring Training embroiled in a competition with Sergio Santos for the coveted closer's role, one would think that Janssen no longer has any doubters.
Despite being considered a non-traditional closer as he relies more on location than blowing away opposing batters, it's hard to argue with the success he's had at the back end of the bullpen.
After nailing down Friday's win, Janssen is 4-1 with 25 saves in 27 opportunities and a 2.86 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Combined with a nearly identical line of a 2.54 ERA and 22 saves in 25 opportunities last year, he's certainly proven he can handle the role.
If Janssen were to come into 2014 as Toronto's closer, it's exactly where he'd like to be.
"I don't think anyone aspires to be vice president. I think everyone wants to be president," Janssen said. "I love being a closer; I enjoy the pressure, and being able to impact games."
While manager John Gibbons gave his support of Janssen for next season, a lot can happen between then and now.
Despite how the 2013 season has unfolded, it hasn't dampened Janssen's spirits any when it comes to exactly where he'd like to continue playing in the quest for a championship.
"Ultimately, you play this game to win a World Series. Being with Toronto my whole career there's no better place that I'd want to do it than here," Janssen said. "Just seeing the fans continue to support us, knowing what could be if we were actually in a race, and seeing how the country is already embracing us now, but what could be sounds unbelievable. Hopefully at some point we can give it to them, and hopefully that includes me being on that roster."
Morrow hopes to avoid surgery on radial nerve
TORONTO -- Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow is still at least three weeks away from picking up a baseball and may require surgery on the entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm that ended his season.
Currently, the 29-year-old is in the middle of a six-week moratorium from throwing and will find out in the next few weeks whether surgery will be required to release the entrapped nerve. The surgery would take place in October with an expected recovery time of three months.
In about three weeks when Morrow is able to resume throwing, he will slowly amp up his rehab. Morrow will then decide if surgery is necessary in order to be ready for Spring Training in 2014.
"To test it, I need to be off the mound throwing bullpens at 100 percent effort level," Morrow said. "I can't go through and baby it. I need to know if it's going to be good or not."
The Blue Jays starter has been dealing with the issue since late May, but after the typical rehab process failed to produce any significant results, Morrow was shut down for the season.
"I think we were hoping with a little bit of rest and rehab it would respond better and the nerve would release itself or that the time off and the rehab would help with the compression," Morrow said. "But then when I tried to amp it up and get off the mound, [that] extra five or 10 percent effort level makes a big difference. Then it was the same as it was at the end of May."
Morrow first felt the pain halfway through his start on May 23 vs. Baltimore with what he described as "light soreness." He then pitched his bullpen session and made his next start against Atlanta on the May 28, but found the injury too much and was pulled after two innings.
Morrow tried different amounts of rest and rehab attempting to make sure he could come back and pitch a meaningful number of innings, but when he was just three days away from making his first rehab start, he realized that he couldn't pitch through it.
"I just couldn't go forward like that," Morrow said. "Not only painful, but it was affecting my mechanics. Trying to work around it, I could tell it was affecting too much."
It's made for a very frustrating summer for Morrow, who only made 10 starts in going 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
"It's been tough. Tough to watch. Tough for me to watch, even turn on a game," Morrow said. "To even watch games, you feel like the sick kid during winter and watching all your friends sled outside, and you're at the window like, 'why can't I join?'"
It also marks another year in which Morrow has failed to make 25 starts, something he's only accomplished twice in his seven-year big league career.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.