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Johnson's progress pleases Girardi


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Johnson's progress pleases Girardi

By Tom D'Angelo

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Saturday, March 18, 2006

 

FORT MYERS ? Marlins manager Joe Girardi hadn't had a chance to see Josh Johnson face adversity, not with the young right-hander sporting a 0.00 ERA entering Friday.

 

But Thursday, after the defense let down the pitcher, Girardi watched Johnson battle for five innings, keeping the Marlins in the game despite leaving with Boston leading 5-0.

 

"What I liked about what he did was when something went wrong, he came back and got an out, which is big,'' Girardi said. "A lot of times, you get that snowball effect and we're not able to come back. He took care of his business and we came back.''

 

The Marlins and Red Sox finished tied at 5 after 10 innings. Johnson allowed five runs, three earned, in four innings. His fastball was sharp before his pitch count started to climb. His worst pitch was a fastball up that Kevin Youkilis hit about 430 feet to center field for a three-run homer.

 

"I thought he threw better than the score indicated,'' Girardi said. "We didn't make some plays behind him and that's when things happened."

 

Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound right-hander, is making a strong bid for the final spot in the rotation. The Marlins say the final three spots are open, but Jason Vargas and Sergio Mitre likely will fill the two behind Dontrelle Willis and Brian Moehler. Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are the top candidates for the fifth starter, with Scott Olsen and Yusmeiro Petit a step behind.

 

"This could be a jump-start for any of us," Johnson said. "A lot of us are young, it could jump-start us to something really good.''

 

Johnson started 70 of 72 games in the minors, never pitching higher than Class AA Carolina. He pitched in four games (one start) with the Marlins last September.

 

Girardi has not ruled out one of the young pitchers making the team as a reliever.

 

"You don't want to really hurt someone's development,'' Girardi said. "We'll have to make that decision if we think it's beneficial for maybe one of the young starters to pitch out of the bullpen.''

 

Source -- Tom D'Angelo, Palm Beach Post, 3/18/05

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