He said that he was diagnosed with a small tear in his right elbow that will keep him out at least eight to 10 weeks. Johnson will begin a rehabilitation program, and if things don’t improve in four weeks, he could be facing season-ending Tommy John ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow.
"It’s a little bit worse," Johnson said. "All it did was it just changed the timetable. Instead of four to six weeks, now we’re looking at probably closer to eight weeks, maybe 10. But obviously after about a month or so, if there’s no improvement with what we’re doing with the rehab and if it’s still lingering, surgery becomes an option at that point. But we’re pretty optimistic about the rehab first.”
Johnson, who had been one of the club's few reliable relief options over the past two seasons and had two stints as the team's closer, was 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA this season and had allowed 15 hits and four walks over 9 2/3 innings when he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
He pitched one scoreless inning for the Tides before deciding that he needed to get his elbow looked at by Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.
Johnson said he was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and “possibly a low-grade tear,” at the time. He went to Dr. Andrews for a second opinion, which pretty much confirmed Dr. Wilckens' diagnosis. It's just a little worse than Johnson originally though.
“It’s a small tear," he said. "There’s some damage to the [ulnar collateral ligament]. I’m sure there’s a medical term for it, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s stretched out obviously.”
Asked if he just considered having surgery immediately rather than trying to rehab the injury, Johnson said, "“It’s an option, but it’s an option I’m not doing yet. I’m going to go other avenues before we consider that. It’s what the first diagnosis was. It’s just going to push the timetable back a little bit.”