Johnson Wants To Be An Oriole
BALTIMORE—Righthander Steve Johnson woke up with a fever, but still made his start in the Arizona Fall League. He warmed in the bullpen before his next start, got hit in the face by a throw from his catcher, fracturing his nose. He still took the mound after the bleeding stopped and tossed three scoreless innings.
The games have been the easiest part of Johnson's days.
Johnson, 24, posted a 3.00 ERA after five outings with the Mesa Solar Sox, allowing five runs and 15 hits in 15 innings. He walked six and struck out 11.
Johnson, who gave up two runs in three innings with the fever, could have become a minor league free agent after going 5-2, 2.16 in 58 innings at Double-A Bowie and 2-7, 5.56 in 87 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, but he wanted to remain with the Orioles. He's a local kid with dreams of pitching at Camden Yards.
"That's a big part of it," he said. "The Orioles have been my team since I was growing up. My dad (Dave) played for them. I really wanted to be home. That's really what I want to do, make it with my hometown team. It would mean a lot to get to the big leagues, and it would mean a lot more to get there with the Orioles."
For Johnson, who came over from the Dodgers in the George Sherrill deal in 2009, the next step is getting on the 40-man roster.
"This is a big opportunity to show what I can do and maybe make them put me on the 40-man, if that's the case," he said. "I want to go out my last couple of starts and prove to them that they can do that."
Either way, Johnson knows where he must improve to take the next step in his career.
"I need to limit my pitches," he said. "That's one of the reasons why my stats weren't as good (at Norfolk). I threw a lot of pitches to good hitters, and the more they see, the better they can hit you. Triple-A hitters did a good job doing that, fouling a lot of pitches off until they get their pitch. I have to limit my pitches, throw more pitches for strikes, make them put the ball in play sooner. You have a better chance of getting through seven, eight innings instead of six. There were a lot of times when I went six.
"It's just locating better all around. They're good hitters up there. Sometimes, you have to be able to pick out the guys who are looking for location and others who are looking for certain pitches. It was good to get that competition, to face guys who have been in the big leagues. I think that was a real good experience to finally get."
• The Orioles hired Dan Radison as a minor league coach. Radison was fired as Nationals first-base coach on July 1 after Davey Johnson replaced Jim Riggleman as manager. Radison is expected to serve as Bowie's hitting coach.
• Righthander Chris Jakubauskas and catcher/first baseman Jake Fox refused their outright assignments to Norfolk and elected to become minor league free agents. Jakubauskas, 32, was 2-2, 5.72 in 33 games (six starts) for the Orioles this season. Fox batted .246/.313/.443 with two homers and six RBIs in 61 at-bats.