Johnson will be activated from DL on Friday

Notebook

Reliever will give Orioles another late-game option

August 25, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO — Jim Johnson will be activated from the disabled list for Friday's series opener against the Los Angeles Angels, giving manager Buck Showalter another relief option late in games.

"You could pitch him two [innings], I think," Showalter said. "Initially, I would try to stay away from back-to-back [outings], but if the situation presents itself, we feel confident using him, period. We wouldn't bring him up if we didn't think he was a go guy. We will put him in the fire if we had to."

Johnson, who started the season as the Orioles' setup man and had stints in each of the past two seasons as closer, was 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 10 appearances for the Orioles this season when he was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk. After one appearance with the Tides, he was shut down with right elbow inflammation. He hasn't pitched in a big league game since April 30.

Johnson made 10 rehabilitation appearances for three minor league affiliates, allowing five earned runs in 12 innings. On Tuesday, he pitched two shutout innings for Double-A Bowie, surrendering just one hit and striking out three.

"I've been encouraged by the way I've been responding physically," Johnson said. "I feel like I'm definitely there. I think over the last couple of outings, my pitches have gotten sharper and sharper. I'm starting to really pitch like I'm supposed to be pitching. The ball is coming out of my hand like I want it to. I feel like I'm ready."

The Orioles will need to create room on the 40-man roster for Johnson, who is on the 60-day disabled list. That won't be difficult because they could simply transfer reliever Jason Berken (torn labrum) from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. They will also have to make a 25-man roster move, and it looks like Armando Gabino's spot is in the most jeopardy.

More from the training room

Adam Jones, who was hit in the back with a pitch from Gavin Floyd in the fourth inning in Tuesday's series opener and later diagnosed with a left shoulder bruise, was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday night. However, Showalter said he would consider using the outfielder as a pinch hitter and expects him back in the lineup in Thursday's series finale.

"It hurts, but I can tolerate it," Jones said.

Designated hitter Luke Scott was in the lineup a day after fouling a ball off his right foot.

Reliever David Hernandez (left ankle sprain) threw a bullpen session Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla., and Showalter said he's on schedule to throw live batting practice Sept. 1. Hernandez could join Single-A Frederick or Bowie, if the Baysox make the playoffs, to make a couple of rehabilitation appearances before rejoining the Orioles.

Six-man rotation, anyone?

The Orioles still haven't decided whether they will go to a six-man rotation in September, but if history is any indication, it might be something they want to consider.

In their current rotation, only Jeremy Guthrie doesn't pitch significantly better when he is on five days' rest. Guthrie has a 3.57 ERA in 65 career starts on four days' rest and a 4.93 career ERA in 39 starts on five days' rest.

Brian Matusz entered Wednesday night with a 5.68 ERA in 18 career starts on four days' rest and a 3.80 ERA in 11 starts on five days' rest. Fellow rookie Jake Arrieta has compiled a 5.00 ERA in 10 starts on four days' rest and a 3.29 ERA in two starts on five days' rest. With four days between starts, Brad Bergesen has a 5.01 ERA in 21 outings, compared with a 3.55 ERA in 14 outings while on five days' rest.

Then there's veteran Kevin Millwood, who has a 4.39 ERA in 248 career starts on four days' rest and a 3.88 ERA in 97 starts on five days' rest.

Stockstill headed to Japan

Orioles director of player development John Stockstill will head to Japan on Sept.6, and spend nearly two weeks scouting players. The Orioles want to get a look at five to seven players, according to Stockstill. That list includes heralded pitcher Yu Darvish.

"The idea is to see all the key people a few times," Stockstill said.

Stockstill is expected to return to the United States about Sept. 19, in time to help run the team's instructional program, which will be held until Oct. 2 or 3. Stockstill said 10 to 15 position players will be invited to the program, which will include instruction on hitting and fielding but also on weight training and sports medicine.

Infield prospects Manny Machado, Mychal Givens and Connor Narron are all expected to attend, but Stockstill said the invitation list hasn't been set.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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