Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson, who shined in his late-season role as the team’s closer, said he has a feeling he will open spring training in the bullpen.
“I’m pretty sure about that,” Johnson said at Saturday’s Orioles FanFest. “We’ll figure that out in the team in the spring.
The organization has considered the idea of making Johnson a starter, even as recently as this offseason. But with the Orioles' offseason starting pitching additions -- Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada and Dana Eveland -- the bullpen appears to be his best fit.
“I think Dan [Duquette] and Buck [Showalter] are kind of thinking that way, but we’ll wait to see how it plays out," Johnson said. "In spring training, things always happen. You never know. Things might change. Roles might change in the spring. I know you guys want to know titles, but I think we just don’t know yet. Time will tell.
Whether he and not Kevin Gregg is the closer remains to be seen. He was a setup man for most of the season, finishing 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA and nine saves, including going 7-for-7 in the season's final month.
Johnson, who came up through the Orioles' minor league system as a starter, said he is disappointed “a little bit” that he doesn’t believe he will have the opportunity to start as the big league level.
“But it’s for a good reason, I think,” Johnson said.