Baltimore manager Dave Trembley announced a new policy Sundat night and stuck to it Monday, when he said the Orioles wouldn’t use George Sherrill as their dedicated closer anymore. Trembley will now mix and match, using Chris Ray and Jim Johnson too.
“I’m going to play the ninth inning as a day-by-day situation and do what I think is best to try and win the game,” Trembley said Monday. “I think sometimes it depends on the score and also depends on who’s available and who’s pitching well. And I also think sometimes you have to go away from the norm a little when things aren’t going well for you. And right now, things aren’t going well for us. I think it’s important to do something different.”
Jim Johnson got back on the mound Thursday for the first time since being felled by a case of right shoulder impingement earlier in the month. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said that Johnson looked rusty but felt good, giving him a chance to be ready for Opening Day.
“We’ve got to do what’s right, but a lot of it is going to depend on how he feels,” said Kranitz. “Worst-case scenario, we just won’t have him for the first part of the season. But he’s confident. He said he feels fine. He’s big and strong. The way it looks is that I can probably work him into at least three games before we have to make a decision.”
If all goes well, Johnson will throw another side session and also face some hitters on Saturday. After that, he’ll get a day or two off and then return to game action.
Jim Johnson provided an update on his shoulder ailment on Friday, saying that he likely won’t get back on the mound for another week. The reliever met with orthopedist Andrew Cosgarea Friday and said his injury may not be as bad as it seemed at first blush.
“They think it’s more tendonitis than impingement, so that’s good news,” he said. “I’m just going to play catch for a couple of days and continue to get treatment.”
Johnson, who hasn’t pitched in a game since March 11, said he still thinks he should be able to start the season on time despite the injury. Last year, the right-hander missed the final month of the season with a case of impingement in his throwing shoulder.
“I was ready to start the season. I came in in shape,” he said. “I just needed to see some hitters when I got here. I was ready to go and in my last outing, I just had a little bump with the shoulder thing. I can still get one, two or three outings in.”
“I would expect he’d be back in there soon,” added manager Dave Trembley regarding Johnson, one of his key relievers. “I don’t anticipate him not being with us.”
Reliever Jim Johnson wasn’t able to participate in most of the team’s drills Saturday due to a shoulder injury that could shut him down for a week or more. Johnson appears to have a case of shoulder impingement, which cost him the entire month of September last year.
“I was told not to be concerned about it and that it would be a few days of non-throwing,” said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. “I talked to the doctor today and we seem to think it’s just a reoccurrence on a lesser scale of what he went through in September.”
Johnson has already had a magnetic resonance imaging test and said that he would consult again with the team’s physicians early next week. The Orioles are counting on him to be a staple of the team’s late relief corps and hope to have him healthy for Opening Day.
“I started feeling it the last time I pitched,” he said of the latest ailment. “I felt it in my last couple of pitches, and then doing the cuff weights after the game it started barking again. We’ll see what the doctors say after a couple days of treatment.”
If you’ve been wondering why most of Baltimore’s best relief pitchers haven’t thrown in a game, the answer has become readily apparent. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that he’s tried to get George Sherrill, Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson and Jamie Walker extra work on the practice mound, thus pushing back their timetable to pitch in games.
“With the extra week of spring training, all those guys we’ve held back,” he said. “They’ve gotten their work in the back throwing simulated games or batting practice sessions.”
Trembley was also asked to clarify his late relief picture on Saturday, and he reiterated that Sherrill is his closer and that Chris Ray will still get scattered save opportunities.
“I didn’t want Chris Ray to think he was coming into camp and it was a tryout,” he said. “I told George he was the closer on the team but he was not going to get every save opportunity. I did it for both guys. I didn’t want Sherrill to come in here and think he had to hurry up and get out there, and I didn’t want Chris Ray wondering what his role on the club was going to be.”