Steve Johnson talks about being designated for assignment by Orioles

Orioles relief pitcher Steve Johnson follows through on a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Baltimore.

Right-hander Steve Johnson said he had a feeling he might not make it to 2016 spring training with the Orioles after not pitching well in six outings in September.

He lasted until December with his hometown team, but the Orioles designated the St. Paul's graduate for assignment Wednesday when they added slugger Mark Trumbo and lefty C.J. Riefenhauser in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.


Johnson, 28, had pitched well in the minors for Triple-A Norfolk (4-1, 2.30 ERA in 32 games for the Tides), but allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings (10.13 ERA) in his brief call-up with the Orioles.

"For much of the season I did well and then I kind of lost it when I go up there," Johnson said. "I've just got to go back and do it all over again, that's all."


It now looks like he might have to do that in another uniform.

"It's tough, but it's all part of the process. I didn't perform well enough when I was up there," Johnson said. "I was hoping to get maybe a longer look coming into [the 2016] spring training and see what happens. But now maybe I'll have to do that somewhere else. Bottom line is I just didn't perform well enough this year."

Johnson, who was first acquired by the Orioles in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009, has been in the club's system for parts of seven seasons and was a key part of the 2012 playoff team, winning all four of his decisions that year.

Last offseason, following surgery to remove a lesion from behind his right shoulder in September 2014, Johnson agreed to a minor league deal with the Orioles. He showed that he was again healthy, though he briefly missed some time with the Tides because of an oblique strain.

"It was good and bad," Johnson said of 2015. "I would have liked to have been healthy all year, but I was limited some. It wasn't too bad."

The club now has 10 days to trade, release or waive Johnson, who can refuse an outright assignment to Norfolk if he passes through waivers. In that scenario, he'd be a free agent and would be able to pick his organization. He said he'll look for the best fit, but won't rule out coming back home again.

"I love Baltimore. I love playing here, it's my hometown. I was very fortunate to get to play for my hometown team," said Johnson, who is the son of former Orioles pitcher and current MASN broadcaster Dave Johnson. "That's always special for me and I'm not going to close any doors either way. Whatever happens, happens. I'll look for the best opportunity I can get and if that is back in Baltimore, it is. And if it's not, so be it. It's one of those things that have to come down to a business decision."