Johnson tossed three innings in an intrasquad game Sunday, throwing 38 pitches (24 strikes), Ian Browne of MLB.com reports. Johnson was removed from the 40-man roster during the offseason, but the left-hander is looking like a candidate to be added to the 40-man as the team's No. 4 starter, per manager Ron Roenicke. "Yes, I do," the manager responded when asked whether he sees Johnson as a potential fourth starter. "We all do. Hopefully he continues [to progress]. We can build him up and then see where we are at the end." The Red Sox have two rotation spots open with Eduardo Rodriguez (illness) doubtful to be ready for the start of the season. Even if Johnson doesn't land in the rotation, it looks like he'd be part of the bullpen with two left-handers, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, recovering from COVID-19.
Johnson was added to the Red Sox's 60-man player pool. Johnson, who is not on the 40-man roster, is expected to land there eventually. He's been a regular on Boston's staff the last couple of seasons, serving as a starter and reliever, before he was exposed to waivers during the offseason. There were no takers, and he's back in a familiar spot -- caught somewhere between the rotation and the bullpen. With Chris Sale (elbow) out for the year and Collin McHugh's availability to start the regular season uncertain due to an elbow, Johnson could find himself as part of the rotation early on or at least serving as an opener. The left-hander is not overpowering and didn't fool many in 2019 when he posted a 6.02 ERA and 1.88 WHIP.
Johnson could serve as a starter for the Red Sox in 2020, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. Johnson served as both a starter and reliever for the major-league club in 2019 prior to being outrighted off the 40-man roster during the offseason. However, he's been relatively effective this spring with a 3.86 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over five appearances (two starts), which led to interim manager Ron Roenicke listing him as an option to start in 2020 after Chris Sale (elbow) opted for Tommy John surgery Thursday. Roenicke also named Ryan Weber as an option, and it would appear as though Weber has the slight edge after exhibiting dominance on the mound this spring. However, Johnson could serve as a fill-in starter or join the rotation if more injuries occur.
Johnson has a 3.86 ERA over five spring appearances, including two starts. Johnson was dropped from the 40-man roster during the offseason despite being a hybrid starter/reliever for Boston the last two seasons. A best-case scenario for the left-hander, who is being stretched out in camp, is as a temporary fill-in starter for Chris Sale (elbow). The Red Sox are also kicking around the notion of using an opener as their fifth starter, in which case there may not be room for Johnson.
Johnson will start Boston's Grapefruit League opener Friday against Tampa Bay, Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic reports. Johnson had a 6.02 ERA and 1.88 WHIP over 40.1 innings for the Red Sox last season. The left-hander figures to begin the season in the minors or bullpen, though he still has an outside chance to grab the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation.
Last 7 Games