Reliever Casey Janssen made an appearance at Nationals Park on Wednesday as he trained with teammates in anticipation of his first minor league rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac the following night.
The right-hander has been recovering from right shoulder tendinitis, progressing through a throwing program in Viera, Fla. He is now ready for the next step as he works his way towards making his delayed Nationals debut.
Janssen said he still needs to work on a few things before he will be ready to pitch for the Nats.
"[My stuff] is not major league ready, which is annoying for me, but I’m getting there. It’s good to compete, good to get out there and face hitters and stuff like that. But still need my velocity to pick up a couple ticks and just get things a little bit more sharp with the breaking stuff. But come up here, get a few more outings in and see where I’m at.”
Manager Matt Williams believes the velocity will come back soon.
"I don’t think we’re concerned about it. That’s part of the progression. Once you had an issue and get shut down a while, you have to build strength and that strength comes from competitive innings," he said.
Janssen said he feels much like he usually does when games begin in spring training. He knows he is close, but is trying to stay patient while he finishes his recovery.
“It’s frustrating when you’ve worked the whole offseason to have a healthy spring training and to have a healthy season. I definitely didn’t draw it up to make it look like this," he said. "So that’s disappointing. It’s disappointing to not be here helping. But you’ve just got to deal with it, get through it, get back as fast as you can and try to help this team win some games.”
Janssen expects to throw one inning on Thursday for the Potomac Nationals and from there take several days off before pitching again. He needs to get to the point where he can pitch on back-to-back days.
That is all a matter of building strength, as Janssen believes the discomfort in his shoulder has subsided to the point where it will not return and crop up later in the year.
“I think it’s gone. I guess you never know. But I do think it was one of the those things that once you got past a certain stage in it, I think it just becomes something you’ve done your whole life. By no means do I need to be 100 percent pain-free everywhere. We’ve learned to pitch with a little bit of something. But at that point in spring training, I knew it was something that would be tough to get through for a season.”
Janssen signed with the Nationals on Feb. 2 after eight years with the Toronto Blue Jays. He holds a 3.52 ERA in 389 career appearances.