Voice of dad hangs over Janssen
Fatherly advice still a source of inspiration for Jays reliever
TORONTO -- Casey Janssen can't explain it. In a stadium packed with thousands of people, the only voice the Blue Jays pitcher remembers hearing during his big-league debut last season was his dad's.
While Janssen fought through a heavy dose of rookie jitters in that initial outing in Toronto on April 27, 2006, his ears somehow picked out the cheers of his father, Jack. It was the same voice which handed out instructions to the pitcher throughout his childhood, and the one that Janssen still turns to for guidance after his games in the Majors.
"I guess growing up, you get so trained to hear a voice," Janssen said. "Probably with my debut, and the little lack of focus that I had, absorbing everything, I could hear him. It was kind of weird. I definitely remember hearing him, and it was one of those things where it was like, 'Did I really hear that?'"
During his rookie season, Janssen went 6-10 with a 5.07 ERA in 19 games, including 17 starts, for the Blue Jays. This season, the 25-year-old right-hander has emerged as one of Toronto's strongest relievers, posting a 0.92 ERA through 24 outings out of the Jays' bullpen.
After each of his performances with Toronto, Janssen still picks up the phone and calls home to Orange, Calif., where his dad devotes many hours to watching his son's games.
"They bought the baseball package, and they watch pretty much every game," Janssen said. "If they're at work, they're huddled around his desk. If he's at home, they're watching on TV.
"I call after every outing that I have. It's kind of just to share it with him, and I guess to get a little bit of an input, but just because he's a big part of my life and you want to share every experience."
Years before professional baseball was even on Janssen's horizon, his dad served as his Little League coach and his mentor throughout high school. Janssen credits his father for a lot of the success he experienced at UCLA, and then throughout Toronto's farm system en route to a big-league promotion.
"At the beginning stages, he is probably what made me what I am today," Janssen said. "He kind of always pushed for more and more, and taught me never to be satisfied with having a good day -- always know that there was something that I could've done better.
"He still kind of helps me out when things aren't going well. He tries to humble me as much as he can -- to keep me working hard through success, and then also he knows when to pick you up when times are getting a little hard."
Even when he's in the stands.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.