If Casey Janssen hasn’t quite looked himself this spring, it has been tough to tell, as we’ve rather gotten used to him starting slowly in camp, and defying expectations that come from looking at the effort he puts into every pitch, the sublime precision he relies on, and the radar gun. His velocity was down this spring, however, and it took until March 24th for him to make his full-fledged spring debut, having been set back earlier in camp due to soreness in his shoulder. Supposedly healthy, he pitched three innings in a week, culminating in a less-than-sharp Friday night performance in Montreal, giving up a run on a pair of doubles in the fifth inning, with no strikeouts.
But the thing about that “supposedly healthy” bit is… perhaps he wasn’t.
At least it’s not the shoulder — at least not according to the word of the club — but per a team release this afternoon, Janssen has been placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back/left abdominal strain, and Erik Kratz has been recalled. The DL stint has been backdated to yesterday (March 29th), making him eligible to come off it on April 13th — a Sunday on which the club will be in Baltimore.
It’s a loss of a key piece of the Jays’ puzzle at a time when they absolutely do not need it, to be sure, but it’s also merely the loss of a one-inning guy at the back of a stacked bullpen, and a guy who we know can pitch effectively through pain and should ultimately be fine. That’s not to say that Janssen’s not great, it’s just… perspective, y’know?
The bullpen, somewhat surprisingly, now goes back down to seven men, with Sergio Santos the likeliest choice to take over the closer’s role. Even more surprising, though, is the addition of Kratz. Or, in the parlance of the internet “another fucking catcher???”
The thing about that is, it seems a fair reward for the big spring that he had, and — provided he keeps hitting like it’s Dunedin and he’s facing minor league scrubs and not the David Price’s of the world — he gives them an OK right-handed bat off the bench. Miiiiiiiight have preferred to see them bring up a guy who can be a true backup in centre, and can pinch run in late game situations, but it’s not like this is indefensible. And @james_in_to points out that BuckJerry noted yesterday that Dioner Navarro was wearing a pad to protect his forearm, which might be a sign that he’s not 100%. I don’t know about all that — he’s a catcher, is he ever going to be 100% — but maybe?
More likely, though, I think it’s about taking the hot bat, and giving the guy a longer look against better pitching. I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if Josh Thole goes down when all is said and done, even. We shall see! Starting damn tomorrow! (At Opera Bob’s!)