Janssen works scoreless frame in spring debut

Janssen works scoreless frame in spring debut

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Casey Janssen made his long-awaited spring debut on Monday afternoon with a scoreless inning against the Phillies in the Blue Jays' rain-shortened 6-3 loss.

Janssen had been out of action since the beginning of camp because of a sore shoulder. He pitched in a pair of Minor League games last week, but this was his first time on the mound against big leaguers.

The 32-year-old retired the first two Phillies he faced, surrendered a pair of back-to-back singles and then got out of his inning without any damage by retiring the final batter.

"I threw a changeup in that one spot just to get a changeup, in case there was an early out," Janssen said of his strategy once he got two quick outs. "It's always good to get a workout in, get a sweat. Not every inning is going to be clean. I got to pitch in the stretch. Runners on first and third, you have to make a pitch, and it was good to do that, too."

One potential alarming part of Janssen's outing was that he didn't top 86 mph on his fastball, according to the radar gun at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. That's a concern, but still not quite as big of a deal as it would be for some other pitchers. Janssen has never been an overpowering reliever, and he typically relies on control and a wide array of pitches to get through his outings.

Janssen averaged 90.1 mph on his fastball in 2013 according to FanGraphs, but his in first few outings of the year, he was typically throwing in the high 80s. He has a couple of outings remaining in the spring to get back to that level, and his expectation is that his velocity will continue to climb once the regular season starts.

The native of California is scheduled to pitch again on Thursday before making an appearance on Friday night at Olympic Stadium in Montreal as part of the two-game exhibition series vs. the Mets.

"As I continue to challenge my arm, my velocity will come," Janssen said. "Still kind of feel like you're breaking through some stuff from the winter. Each and every day, you kind of hit a new high and continue on like that. I'm a command guy, I don't normally look back at the radar gun, because it doesn't really matter to me. Whatever I have that day is what I've got, and I try to use it."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.