- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Casey Janssen strolled into the Washington Nationals clubhouse Wednesday morning for the first time in a long time. “Did we make a trade?” one player joked.

Janssen has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Nationals after being diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis in his right shoulder during spring training. After spending the first month of the season at the team’s complex in Viera, Florida, Janssen is set to begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment at Single-A Potomac on Thursday. He said the shoulder discomfort from spring is now gone.

“I think it’s gone. I guess you never know,” Janssen said Wednesday. “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.”

Janssen is scheduled to pitch one inning for Potomac on Thursday, then take a few days off before returning to the mound. Manager Matt Williams said Janssen, like all rehabbing relievers, will need to pitch in consecutive games before joining the Nationals.

Janssen is still trying to build strength in his arm and feels like he is in the early stages of spring training, when games begin. He said his breaking pitches have not been as sharp as he would prefer, and the velocity on his fastball is down, but neither is a long-term concern.

“That’s part of the progression,” Williams said. “Once you had an issue and get shut down a while, you have to build strength and that strength comes from competitive innings. That’s why we have such a long spring training — it’s not automatically there. You have to build it back up.”

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Janssen has a history of shoulder injuries. In 2008, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. In 2009, he made two trips to the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder inflammation or soreness. He mentioned shoulder discomfort in some form in both 2011 and 2013, and dealt with soreness last spring as well.

When asked if his current shoulder ailment is like the others, Janssen did not specify. Regardless, he believes it is behind him. And he’s excited to returning to the majors as soon as possible.

“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,” Janssen 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.”

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