Posted on: February 26, 2012 5:39 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:04 pm
JUPITER, Fla.-- Ace righthander Josh Johnson let the ball loose today in his bullpen session, and he loved the results. Every move he makes, every step he takes, is a big one for the Marlins. This was a nice step.
"I relaxed today and let it happen,'' said Johnson. "I was down in the zone, which was huge for me. My first couple times I was trying to muscle it, and the ball was up.''
Spiritually speaking, Johnson is up, anyway. For all the money the Marlins spent, and all the many big imports who are contained in a much livelier Marlins clubhouse, the biggest key to their season remains Johnson, who was off to a typical dominating start last year when it all stop May 16. He was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA when he left a game against his personal patsy, the Mets, never to return for the season.
At first, they figured he'd be back in a month. Then it was the All-Star break. And before long the decision was made to shut him down for the year. Johnson may live in Las Vegas in the offseason, but he wasn't about to gamble that his arm was right when it didn't feel right.
"It was very frustrating,'' Johnson recalled. "It took us a while to figure it out. I'd feel better, but I didnt feel great.'' Everything was tried to quell the inflammation in his right shoulder short of surgery. But Johnson didn't feel quite right all season. Now, fonally, he feels right.
"I feel great,'' he said.
Those are the three greatest words in the Marlins lexicon, maybe even the key to their season. Johnson said he plans to pitch the opener April 4 at the Marlins' new park. He went to check out it Friday, and he liked what he saw. "It's pretty big he said,'' reciting the spacious dimensions. The guess so far is that it'll be a pitchers' park, and Johnson said he already told them he'd prefer to pitch the opener with the roof open, and maybe even his first few games there. Can't hurt.
Nice to realize he's thinking about something other than his shoulder and planning for future games. Beacuse for all the Marlins' winter work and all their dollars spent, their holdover ace is the biggest factor in their much-anticipated season.