TORONTO - Casey Janssen spent the five days in between his 29th and 30th saves downplaying the significance of the total.
But now that he's achieved the round number, he acknowledges its importance.
"It's a nice little milestone," said Janssen. "I still want to close out as many games as I can to finish the year. I said it when I took the job, I just kind of wanted to take the opportunity to have my name be recognized around baseball as a guy who is a viable late-inning arm."
Janssen was named Toronto's closer in May 2012. He converted 22 of 25 save opportunities last season. Despite offseason shoulder surgery, Janssen picked up where he left off, locking down 30 of 32 chances this year.
"It was hard to justify the injury early on," said Janssen. "I was telling guys that I feel like crap and I might have a one-two-three inning and they're like, what are you talking about. It was hard to get through those first three months or so. I started to get into a nice routine, obviously I was further away from the surgery date and I hopefully I'm able to power through this last stretch and get through the year."
The shoulder condition has improved as the season's worn on. Janssen, too, has been one of the more vocal Blue Jays about the unacceptability of the club's poor performance.
"This year has been a headache for me, a headache for a lot of guys," he said. "I'm sure early on, I was driving the trainers crazy being in there trying to get right and feel comfortable. I started to feel a lot better lately and just bouncing back in catch and then out there on the mound as well so I guess there's a little satisfaction in that but bottom line, this season didn't go as planned. Although a successful personal season doesn't justify or doesn't sit well enough to overcome the disappointment."
With a team-friendly club option for $4-million next season, Janssen is among a number of Blue Jays (Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are others) who represent great value.
Given Toronto's bullpen depth aside from Janssen – power arms like Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar, Dustin McGowan, Jeremy Jeffress and lefthanders Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup – general manager Alex Anthopoulos could use a reliever or two as a trade chip. The Jays have needs in the starting rotation, at second base, at catcher and possibly in the outfield. Anthopoulos could use a reliever as trade bait and still have plenty left were a move to be made.
In the meantime, Janssen will continue to pitch when needed and attempt to set an example both on the field and off.
"I don't know if I ever would have imagined being a closer saving 30 games but I wished, I thought and I hoped I could and it was just a matter of getting the opportunity," he said. "It's a nice little milestone but hopefully there's a lot more to go."