Toronto Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen will open the season on the disabled list with a left abdominal/lower back strain, with catcher Erik Kratz recalled from triple-A Buffalo to take his place on the roster.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos took a conference call that Janssen felt the area “grab” while warming up for Friday’s outing.
“He didn’t think it was too bad and obviously it didn’t prevent him from going in to pitch,” said Anthopoulos. “Saturday he said it was getting a little better overall, didn’t concern him too much but the fact that it didn’t completely resolve itself, we decided that since we’re off today lets go get an MRI done just to rule anything out. The MRI just showed some mild strain in the lower back abdominal area, we don’t expect him to be out too long. There was a scenario where we could of waited five or six days and tried to get him back going, but we want to have this thing resolved and not nag at him.”
In Janssen’s absence, Anthopoulos said Sergio Santos will get the first opportunity to serve as closer.
Janssen’s buildup was slowed during spring training by shoulder soreness and he made just three appearances in exhibition play, the most recent coming in Friday’s 5-4 win over the New York Mets in Montreal. He allowed a run on two hits in one inning of work.
The right-hander pitched through a shoulder that wasn’t 100 percent last season, when he posted a 4-1 record with a 2.56 ERA and 34 saves. His DL stint is backdated to March 29 and leaves Janssen eligible for activation April 13.
The addition of Kratz will give manager John Gibbons a four-man bench staffed with two catchers. Kratz lost out on the backup job despite a strong spring in which he batted .400 with two home runs in 25 at-bats when the Blue Jays decided Josh Thole would better handle R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball.
"He deserved to be on the team with his spring and obviously we went with Josh. It was certainly a tough choice," said Anthopoulos. "But the more we looked at it, it was just another right-handed bat ... we could have gone a number of different ways with it. Just because we're going this way doesn't mean we can't change three days in, four days in. ... We face three left-handers in our first seven games and having as many right-handed bat options makes sense for us now."