Having grown up around Orioles baseball, Steve Johnson's dream was always to play for his hometown team.
That dream came true Sunday, when the St. Paul's alum was told he was being recalled by the Orioles. His first call was to his father, former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson.
"I think we were both shocked," Johnson said. "I was still in shock and he was definitely in shock.
"Growing up, with my dad playing for them, and being around them and following them, being a fan, even when I was with the Dodgers, that's why I signed back with them this year. I wanted to be here. I think I'm still in shock until the game starts today. I think that's when it's really going to set in."
Following a cross-country 6 a.m. flight from Triple-A Norfolk Monday, he was running the warning track at Safeco Field before the Orioles' series opener against the Mariners. He was available to make his major league debut Monday out of the bullpen, where the Orioles will initially use him.
On May 3, the Orioles added Johnson to the 40-man roster, a move that prevented Johnson from being able to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract. Four weeks later, he is in the majors.
"There was a lot of stuff going through my mind and I really just wanted to pitch and have it all over with and let whatever happened happen," Johnson said. "I didn't really like that part of it, the business side. It's not as fun as just going out there and playing. I was glad to have that over with and glad to be with the Orioles and it worked out."
Johnson spent most of the season as a starter, but also excelled once he moved to the bullpen because of Norfolk's crowded rotation. He has yet to allow an earned run in four relief appearances since joining the pen in mid-June, a span of 12 1/3 innings. Johnson has a five-inning stint among those relief appearances, so he could still start for the Orioles.
Johnson was 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 games (nine starts) for the Tides.
Johnson and his father become the sixth father-son duo to play for the Orioles, joining Bob and Terry Kennedy, Don and Damon Buford, John O'Donoghue Sr. and John O'Donoghue Jr., Dave and Derrick May and Tim Raines Sr. and Tim Raines Jr.
Dave Johnson pitched for the Orioles from 1989 to '91.
Tillman to start Thursday, Arrieta pushed back
Right-hander Chris Tillman has been recalled from Norfolk and will join the Orioles in Seattle on Tuesday. He will likely start Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners, allowing the Orioles to push back right-hander Jake Arrieta a day.
Tillman is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts) with Norfolk. He's won four of his last five starts and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his last 10 decisions. Over his past three starts, Tillman is 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 23 strikeouts and 3 walks.
Tillman was scratch from his scheduled start on Monday night in Norfolk, replaced by Tim Bascom, who was promoted from Double-A Bowie.
The Orioles have yet to announce their starter for Friday's game in Anaheim.
Palmer auctioning off awards
Former Orioles great Jim Palmer is auctioning off his three Cy Young Award plaques and two of his four Gold Glove award trophies.
Palmer isn't in financial need, but said the sale of the trophies would help him care for his 15-year-old autistic stepson and his grandchildren. A portion of the profits will also go to the autism project of Palm Beach County.
"They're hanging on my wall," said Palmer, who was in Seattle to call the Orioles/Mariners series for MASN. "It seems like it could make more of a difference in other people's lives instead of just hanging on my wall of my office. The Gold Gloves are in storage."
Palmer said he donated one of his Gold Gloves as part of an auction package to benefit a cystic fibrosis charity, but the winning bidder returned the award, wanting to donate to the cause.
Palmer won the AL Cy Young Award in 1973, 1975 and 1976. His 1976 and 1979 Gold Gloves are on auction.
According to the Hunt Auctions website, the Cy Young Awards carry an estimated value of $60,000 to $80,000 each and the Gold Gloves are estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 each. The items will be part of a live auction on July 10, but pre-auction bids can be made for the next week.
Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, who was trying to make a comeback with the Orioles, announced his retirement Monday. He was with his fifth organization since the beginning of the 2010 season and his turbulent stint at Triple-A Norfolk included struggles on and off the mound.
"I'm deeply thankful for everything the game has done for me and I will always remember the great people I met along the way as well," Willis tweeted.
The Orioles signed Willis during spring training shortly after he was released by the Phillies and initially planned on using him as a situational left-handed reliever. Willis made just three relief appearances, pitching to a 4.91 ERA before he was abruptly placed on the minor-league restricted list after leaving the team.
He worked his way back through extended spring training games, but made just one start for the Tides — on Thursday — lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on six hits.
Around the horn
Rightfielder Nick Markakis (wrist surgery) hit soft-toss and took 20-25 swings of batting practice at 70 percent on Monday at Aberdeen. If all progresses well, Markakis could play in his first rehab game on Thursday or Friday for Double-A Bowie. … Second baseman Brian Roberts sat out Monday's game with a sore groin. Robert Andino started at second and hit leadoff in his place. … Catcher Taylor Teagarden (back) began his minor-league rehab with a start in the Gulf Coast League on Monday, playing five innings. Catcher Luis Exposito (wrist) is slated to begin rehab on Wednesday. … Including Monday's move to recall Johnson, the Orioles have made 10 25-man roster moves involving nine players over the past six days. … Wilson Betemit, hitting third for this first time this season, entered Monday's game with an 11-game hitting streak. He is hitting .472 (17-for-36) over that span. …The Orioles entered the game with a 1-7 record on Mondays.
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