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Expect Jim Johnson to be demoted (updated)

Nothing will become official until this afternoon, but expect Jim Johnson to be the roster casualty when the Orioles officially bring up Brad Bergesen to pitch today against the Red Sox.

It's a move that seemed unthinkable in early April when Johnson was tabbed to be the team's closer once Michael Gonzalez hit the disabled list.

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Johnson has been one of the bright spots for a bullpen constantly in flux the past few years. But the 26-year-old right-hander has struggled through the first part of the season. After giving up five base runners and another run on Friday, Johnson is 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 10 games.

He has allowed 15 hits, four walks and seven earned runs in 9 2/3 innings and has been charged with three blown saves while converting one. He has allowed five of eight inherited runners to score. To his credit, through the rough times in April, Johnson has answered questions and shouldered the blame for his struggles.

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In addition to getting him on track, Johnson became a likely candidate for demotion because he has a minor league option remaining. Reliever Matt Albers, another possibility to be taken off the roster, doesn't have any options left.

Johnson does, and despite his position as a leader of the bullpen and one of the longest-tenured Orioles, a demotion looks inevitable.

Johnson pitched in the majors all of last year and all but one game in 2008. He hasn't had significant time in the minors since he started 25 games for the Tides in 2007.

Update: Johnson has officially been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

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