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Janssen turns emotional after big relief appearance

Jul 12, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

BALTIMORE — Casey Janssen sat at his locker inside the Camden Yards visiting clubhouse Friday night, a plate of food in his hands, and stared off into nothingness for several minutes. He had made only a brief appearance in the game earlier, but the little dribbler of a single he allowed to Chris Parmalee leading off the bottom of the eighth ultimately led to the tying run scoring, which ultimately led to the Orioles beating the Nationals, 3-2.

Janssen was barely to blame for the loss — he only faced two batters and allowed only the one weak base hit — but what stung most after the game was the feeling the veteran reliever had that he wasn’t contributing to the Nats as much as he or the club hoped.

So when another opportunity came 24 hours later, this time resulting in three key outs recorded to help the Nationals to a 7-4 victory, Janssen again had an emotional response. This time, he was excitedly pumping his fist after striking out both Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce.

“It has to do with me just not really contributing yet,” Janssen said later, pausing as he considered his words. “I feel like there is a place for me here, and I’ve got to find my way. And, I haven’t yet. It was a big spot. It was a spot where I have to build that trust. I have to build the trust of my teammates, the staff, everybody. It was an opportunity for me to show them what I can do.”

Janssen doesn’t feel like he really has shown the Nationals that yet, and it clearly bothers him. Signed over the winter to a $3.5 million contract, the 33-year-old was being counted on to serve as the club’s primary setup man, filling the critical role that opened up with Tyler Clippard was traded to Oakland.

But then Janssen’s shoulder started barking in spring training and he wound up missing the season’s first two months. And since debuting, he has been an inconsistent member of the bullpen, delivering on occasion but not yet establishing himself as manager Matt Williams’ go-to guy for the eighth inning.

This is something of an unfamiliar position for Janssen, who for the previous three years had served as the Blue Jays’ closer, posting 81 saves with a 2.94 ERA.

He’s not bitter about that, though. He knows, as an unconventional, non-flamethrower, he’ll always need to prove himself year after year.

He just wants the Nationals to know he can be counted on and that talk of the club seeking another late-inning relief option may be premature.

“I want to show them that they don’t need to look any more, but that comes with success,” Janssen said. “I just have to continue to have innings like that and continue to show them that this is the guy that they brought in and you can trust me, it’s going to be all right.”

  1. micksback1 - Jul 12, 2015 at 12:08 PM

    I went to game last night with my son who is a die hard O’s fan, ha ha ha

    He ribbed me the night before so I of course returned the favor 24 hour later. I was very proud of Jansen, that is what competitors do. I still have my doubts on him as I do Rivero, but i must say, the kid looked good.

    It seems like when Drew gets too much rest, its a bad thing as he scared me a bit last night. Watching Bryce and Danny step up was sweet and it shut up the obnoxious O’s fans I was sitting with,

    We need another BP arm by August 1 or Sept 1. The BP is clearly our weakness as it is in consistent. Love MT, as he keeps making big at bats!

  2. MurrayTheRed - Jul 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    I love his demeanor on the mound, the way he rocks back and forth when he’s holding onto the ball, his stance facing the plate. It is a new and different look from all the others and I think that’s a good thing. Perhaps it throws the batters off their game.

  3. natsdial8 - Jul 12, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Thought surely Matt leaves him in . He was untouchable and of course going by the “book” Drew has to get the nod. Not surprisingly Drew had us worried . I see his numbers but wow he doesn’t inspire confidence . He looks unsure like something is going to go bad . Closer should look fearless .

    • Sonny G 10 - Jul 12, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      I believe his command (pitch location) was a little off, but he got the job done. I know what you mean about not inspiring confidence though. I always wonder if we are going to get the good Drew, or the bad Drew. Not unlike Gio.

      • natslive - Jul 12, 2015 at 2:49 PM

        Drew reminds me of the Chad Cordero days….made you nervous but somehow usually got it done





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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