Orioles left-hander Zach Britton is not the only pitcher who will gradually work into his spring training routine.
Right-handed reliever Jim Johnson, the favorite to win the club’s closer job, will ease into throwing after dealing with lower-back discomfort, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
While pitchers begin their first workout Sunday morning, Johnson’s throwing program will be different. His will include a throwing session off flat ground Sunday. Eventually, he will move to a half mound.
Showalter didn't seem very concerned about the issue.
“It’s understanding what he’s going to be doing this year,” Showalter said. “He’s going to be on this club, and there’s no reason to [rush]. ... There’s no reason to push that envelope.”
Showalter said Johnson is working on a “trunk stabilitation” to help alleviate the back issues. Showalter also mentioned that Johnson has had patella (knee) issues in the past but the most recent trainer’s report said those have been absolved.
Johnson converted his final eight save opportunities this season, including seven straight to end the season once he was handed the closer role from Kevin Gregg in September.