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MacArthur: Closing not Janssen's top priority in 2015

Scott MacArthur
9/24/2014 8:43:09 PM
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TORONTO - It seems that Casey Janssen's time in Toronto is coming to an end. While the Blue Jays' closer of the last three seasons wouldn't formally shut the door on a return, Janssen's poised to test the free agent waters for the first time in his big league career.

Janssen reflects on his time in Toronto, his pitch selection and adjustments during a second half that didn't go as well as the first half and he shares the names of three teammates who've impressed him during his nine seasons with the Blue Jays.

Listen to the interview here.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

TSN.ca: Casey let's not waste any time getting down to brass tacks. Do you anticipate being a Toronto Blue Jay next season?

JANSSEN: It's really tough to say. I've never had the opportunity to test free agency. I've enjoyed my time here and the opportunity that I've got here to show what I was able to do is something I'll forever be grateful for. What the future holds is really out of my control and is something not only the Toronto Blue Jays would have to want me back but something that, you know, see what other opportunities arise and see what happens.

TSN.ca: You have had, I think, two different halves to this season. The first half you looked like the guy from 2012 and 2013, locking down games. The second half it's been a bit more of a struggle. I know you're not an excuses guy but we are looking for reasons. So maybe give me a reason or two that you think your second half has been a struggle for you and did the food poisoning from your trip to the Dominican Republic over the All-Star Break play a role? Did it take you longer to bounce back then maybe you were willing to acknowledge because you didn't want to make excuses?

JANSSEN: I mean, looking back and looking at my first half and the rhythm I was in, yeah, I mean it's very easy to point the finger at the food poisoning and what I had lost right there. Like you said, I'm not one to make excuses but I think, looking back now it's easy to say that probably affected him to some level and then from there I believe I probably created some little bad habit.

TSN.ca: Mechanical?

JANSSEN: Mechanical or pressing or whatever you want to call it. I left balls up and instead of being on the black they were catching a little more white. I wish I could go back and change those last two months. Obviously I can't but I think there was something, a portion and I don't know how long to say it affected me but I think from there I created some kind of flaw in my delivery that led to the downturn.

TSN.ca: Over the last couple of months there have had to have been some frustrations that build up inside you. You just mentioned the word "pressing" there just a little bit. Was some of this mental too? Because I would think you're going through impending free agency for the first time, plus you're obviously wanting to close out games for a team that had won more than it had lost and was contending. Was there an element of that at all?

JANSSEN: I would say it was more the team portion than the free agency portion. I want to win so bad. That's all I want to do. I want to bring a championship to Toronto. I've always wanted to do that. Pressing on my end, saying that man, I want to be flawless every time out there because I know every time I'm out there the game is on the line and every win is so important. So, yeah, I was pressing. I wanted to save five games in the one game that I was trying to close and obviously put ourselves in the best position to win the AL East and to make the playoffs and then as I struggled I think the snowball started to get a little bigger and you know, maybe a touch there of loss of confidence and it's a tough game and when you're struggling, you're searching. You're searching for answers and sometimes it's hard to just get that ball rolling on the good side again.

TSN.ca: You were talking about leaving balls up. Are you referring mostly to your fastball? I was just looking at your splits for your pitches. Your usage of fastball is down a little bit over last year, about five-percent. Usage of your curveball is up three or four-percent. Have you intentionally changed anything or is that just kind of a random act this season?

JANSSEN: Well I think it was definitely intentional that I did change. I think when I was going through those tougher times I felt like I was getting hit with my fastball. Yes, my command wasn't where I expect it to be and I think that led to, like you said, some of the struggles was I was getting beat with my bread and butter which is my fastball and my cutter. The only way to get the hitters off of my fastball and my cutter, because my command wasn't perfect, it was I needed to change speeds more often so I think, yes, I mean obviously throwing more offspeed pitches was intentional from the standpoint of get them off my fastball but at the same time I really like the action on my curveball this year. It was still an aggressive pitch. It wasn't that I was pitching scared with offspeed pitches. I was still, what I felt, pitching aggressively.

TSN.ca: It seemed like last year, as good a year as it was for you, there was always conversation about your shoulder and there was more conversation about your shoulder through spring training because you missed a lot of time back in Dunedin dealing with some of that stuff. Where is your shoulder at right now?

JANSSEN: It feels great. My body feels great. I think the arm stuff is something of the past. The spring training mishap, I think I can change up my offseason routine a little bit to make sure that doesn't happen again but I'm really excited about the way my shoulder feels, the way my arm feels, the way my body feels. I can't wait for the offseason to build on what I've started here throughout the season and continue to maintain a strong body and arm and so none of those injuries or DL time ever happen again.

TSN.ca: You're, I hate to say this but it's true, you're pushing into your mid-30s now. Has all of this over the last eight, 10 years happened way quicker than it seems? I mean, you've got so much to reflect on, probably more so than you've got to look ahead.

JANSSEN: Yeah. I don't feel 33. The guys keep it young and keep it fun and at the end of the day I'm still playing a game so I definitely don't feel 33. But, yeah, saying most of my time here, baseball time, is in the past is crazy to think about but definitely not looking in the past, looking in the future and excited about the future and excited for whatever doors open.

TSN.ca: Talk about your ties to Toronto. I know your fiancée is a Southern Ontario girl so you're always going to have links to this area whether you live here or not sometime down the road. For a Southern California kid who, correct me if I'm wrong, probably didn't spend a lot of time here in Toronto growing up, what has this city and this area come to mean to you?

JANSSEN: Well, it's become my second home. I've enjoyed my time here. It's definitely a city that, if you've never been here, you wouldn't appreciate it as much as I do. It's an unbelievable city. It's fun. It's a great time. I love the downtown area where you can walk everywhere. The people are great and you'll have no trouble finding stuff to do in this city. I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been great and like I said, you might see me back here next year or you might not but there will definitely be a place in my heart for this place and either baseball or not baseball I'm sure I haven't seen the last of it.

TSN.ca: You've been through a few eras here so I'm going to put you on the spot. This is going to be a tough one to answer but I want you to try to do it. Give me the names of three current or former teammates who you've played with with the Blue Jays who really stand out for you in terms of elite performance on the field or the way that they handled themselves on and off the field, that sort of thing.

JANSSEN: The first that comes to mind is probably Roy Halladay. Just with what he was able to accomplish as a front line starter in this division and among baseball. He was as impressive to watch as anyone I can remember and definitely learned a lot from the way he approached the game. Number two, jeez.

TSN.ca: It's not supposed to be easy. You've probably had a few.

JANSSEN: I would say the few years that Bautista had here when he was hitting 50-plus home runs was something to really watch and definitely was glad he was on my team and I was getting to watch it as opposed to having to compete against him. But he's a heck of a player. He's probably right now the face of the Toronto Blue Jays and he deserves every bit of it. Third, let me think of third. Third, I'd probably have to go with Vernon (Wells). Although it was more toward the beginning of my career he manned centrefield and held it down pretty well and he had some pretty special seasons as well when I was here. He was a true professional. You learned a lot about him just, like you said, how he carried himself on and off the field. He was there for the media everyday. He was the ultimate pro. Even when he did have a year or two where it didn't go perfectly his way, he was still the same person that … still carried himself the same way as that person that was the three-time Gold Glove winner and however many time All-Star. So I appreciate those guys and being able to watch them and learn from them.

TSN.ca: When you assess the market and the needs of the 30 teams and I'm sure you'll delve more into that when the season ends, is the priority for you to close next year wherever you are? Is it winning? What is it?

JANSSEN: I've always said this, I was given the opportunity to close and I absolutely love to close but it's not everything to me. If another team wanted me to pitch in the late innings, if it's the seventh or the eighth or even the ninth I just like to embrace my role, whatever my role is and try to be the best at it that I can. So, no, closing isn't the ultimate priority. Obviously I want the opportunity to win and if closing and winning combines itself, great. If it doesn't then I really want to win. I really do. That's why you play and hopefully somebody out there has seen what I've done and wants my services.

TSN.ca: Well, whatever happens Casey we wish you the best. Good luck.

JANSSEN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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