Checking on J.J. (updated)

This game has gotten too weird.

Koji Uehara is removed with two outs in the eighth inning so another right-hander, Cla Meredith, can get the final out? Was he gassed after 30 pitches?

I was standing outside the Ed Smith Stadium clubhouse today when Jim Johnson spotted me and said, "Brian isn't here."

Very funny.

Johnson must assume he rates lower than Brian Roberts, but I actually wanted to check on him.

Johnson was shut down after being diagnosed with a strained ligament in his right elbow - or a small tear, if you will - but he's been cleared to begin exercises for his arm tomorrow while also continuing to receive treatment for the injury.

"I haven't really been doing anything," he said. "I've just been a track star the last couple of days. I'm trying not to get fat."

Johnson is about one week into his month-long idle period, which mostly consists of treatment and cardio work. That qualifies as idle when you're supposed to be a set-up man or closer.

Johnson eventually will be placed on a throwing progression program similar to the one prescribed for Mike Gonzalez. His arm is still sore, "but there's marked improvement every day," he said.

The Orioles are confident that Johnson will avoid having surgery on the elbow.

"I really don't think it's going to get to that point," he said. "I think the time off is the most important part, letting the body heal itself naturally more than anything. Throwing is a tearing-down action anyway, an unnatural motion. You're body's not supposed to do it. I think inactivity will calm everything down that's going on."

I'd be much calmer if the Orioles weren't on their seventh pitcher in nine innings.

Update: And if they hadn't lost on a Nelson Cruz sacrifice fly off Jason Berken after the Rangers loaded the bases against Meredith and Alberto Castillo.

I don't think there's any doubt that Castillo will be removed from the 25-man roster (and perhaps the 40-man) when the Orioles add a position player - expected to be Michael Aubrey - for the Nationals series.

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