Notes: Janssen making his case
Right-hander looks sharp in his three-inning stint Thursday
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Casey Janssen's doing all he can to wiggle his way into the rotation this year, and he looked sharp during the first two innings of his outing Thursday. The Jays right-hander faced just three hitters in the third inning of Toronto's 8-7 loss to Pittsburgh, and he managed to fan leadoff hitter Xavier Nady on three straight pitches.
Janssen also retired the Bucs in order during the fourth, punching out the first two hitters he faced and inducing the third to pop out to right field.
"I felt pretty strong all the way through," Jannsen said afterward. "I finally mixed in everything, so that was good, too. I finished three [innings], we'll see what the next step is."
The fifth inning was a bit rockier due to a pair of pitches that missed location, but Janssen still held firm and came out with a 6-5 lead. Jorge Velandia doubled to lead off the frame and scored on a sacrifice. Nady then got his revenge with a long ball to right for the only marks on Janssen's watch.
"It looked like he might have [fatigued a little bit]," manager John Gibbons said of his reliever's outing Thursday. "But at the same time, he hasn't been used to it. Last year, he went two innings max. He'll be fine, he's just got to build up his stamina a little bit."
Here's the question: Who led Toronto with the most homers during Spring Training 2007?
Rusty Dusty: As far as second appearances go, Dustin McGowan lacked a little on Thursday. The Jays' No. 3 hurler hit leadoff batter Nyjer Morgan with a pitch to begin the game, allowed Morgan to steal second a moment later and then served up a Freddy Sanchez RBI bloop single for the game's first run. Two batters later, Steve Pearce belted a two-out homer to left-center to score Sanchez and widen the lead.
"With Dustin, it doesn't matter how hard he throws, when that ball comes up, they're going to hit it," said Gibbons of McGowan, who also threw a wild pitch in the second to advance runners to second and third before he fanned Sanchez to end the inning.
McGowan was replaced by Janssen to start the third inning after he threw 41 pitches, 25 of them for strikes.
Take a bow: Just after Bucs starter Tom Gorzelanny struck Sal Fasano in the back to load the bases in the second, David Eckstein drove the first pitch he saw from reliever Jesse Chavez out of the ballpark, good for a grand slam and a 6-3 Jays lead.
"Hopefully [my teammates] don't start expecting that; those don't come very often," joked the 5-foot-7 Eckstein, the Jays' $4.5 million December acquisition. "That's probably the best I've got, right there. I was just happy to make solid contact in Spring Training. I don't think I've done that yet."
And the answer is: Vernon Wells, with four. The Jays center fielder currently has none through seven games, while three Jays other than Eckstein -- Joe Inglett, Buck Coats and Matt Stairs -- are tied for the team lead with one apiece. Those three long balls all came in the same game, an 8-4 victory over Cincinnati, which marked Toronto's first Grapefruit League win of the year.
Coming up: The Jays will head home to Dunedin, Fla., on Friday to face the Twins at Knology Park. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will take the mound for Toronto, and he'll face off against lefty Glen Perkins. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Dawn Klemish is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.