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Janssen building solid year as shoulder improves

TORONTO -- Casey Janssen continues to navigate his way through a relatively flawless season despite having to deal with a shoulder that is less than 100 percent healthy.

Toronto's closer has converted all but two of his 23 save opportunities this year, while posting an impressive 2.41 ERA. He's struck out 35 and walked just nine with a 0.88 WHIP, and he has quietly become one of the more reliable late-inning relievers in the game.

Janssen hasn't required a stint on the 15-day disabled list, but it has still been a long road to recovery since he underwent offseason surgery to shave down the collarbone in his right shoulder.

"I'm managing it," Janssen said. "I think this whole season is going to be a grind, but I have more good days than bad days. Every once in a while, I'll wake up for no reason and not feel amazing, but no one feels amazing now that we're into August. I'm no different, but we're just coming out and competing."

During the early stages of the season, Janssen had to closely monitor the health of his shoulder. He originally wasn't expected to be ready before the end of Spring Training, but he recorded just enough innings at the end of camp to head north with the team.

Since then, Janssen has been forced to miss an occasional game, and manager John Gibbons prefers not to warm him up in the bullpen unless he's confident that his closer will get into the game. But besides that, Janssen has been able to pitch through occasional discomfort, knowing he won't be back to full health until the offseason.

Janssen, who is a proponent of the weighted-ball program to increase strength in the shoulder, will work through a rigorous exercise program in the offseason, but until then, it's more about maintenance and making sure he can take the ball whenever possible.

The bad days are becoming fewer and fewer, but there have still been moments during the season when Janssen has realized that his shoulder is not yet back to normal. Still, it's getting better, and that can only be viewed as a positive for this time of the year.

"More than anything, the warmup isn't taking as long to feel decent," said Janssen, who is tied with Mike Timlin for sixth place on the Blue Jays all-time saves list with 52. "Once I get on the mound -- adrenaline -- and I've thrown enough in the 'pen that I'm feeling good enough to go out there and give us a chance."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, Casey Janssen