Orioles right-hander Jim Johnson, the favorite to win the closer job this spring, said he believes he’s no more than a week behind the other pitchers as today's first spring workouts commence
Johnson is slated to have a throwing session on flat ground today as part of a “trunk stabilization” program to aid his recovery from some recent lower back pain. He said he began to experience some pain early last month.
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“There was no (specific) incident,” Johnson said. “I just went to see the doctor and it’s no big deal. I’ve just been stretching it. Everything is good. It’s just like a little strain back there. I’ll be on the mound fairly soon, right back out there."
Johnson said his program will affect his conditioning.
“I’m probably just not going to be running much. That’s about the only thing, but we’ve got all these new toys out here in the training room. A lot of it is just stretching. They have a spine program and a lot of it is just stretching, like small core work. That’s really all it is.”
Asked if he’s been told he will compete for the the closer role, which he assumed late last season, or remain the set-up man, Johnson had few answers.
“I don’t have any clue,” Johnson said, “Honestly. That’s what spring's for.”
However, it does seem clear that he will stay in the bullpen instead of joining a crowded competition for a starting rotation spot.
“Yeah, with the way things happened with the back, that kind of put the nail in the coffin on that because of the conditioning got kind of hit with that,” Johnson said. “That’s fine.”