One of the things that manager Buck Showalter likes about his roster is it includes players who have a chip on their shoulders. (As opposed to Sidney Ponson, who had potato chip crumbs on his chest. Not the same.)
Does Jim Johnson belong in it?
Johnson emerged as a dominant setup man in 2008, using his heavy sinker to post a 2.23 ERA in 54 appearances. But his ERA jumped to 4.11 in 2009 after he dealt with a sore shoulder in spring training, and he made only 26 appearances last year because of a slightly torn ligament in his right elbow.
The Orioles signed Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Accardo and re-signed Koji Uehara. Former closer Michael Gonzalez is back for a second season. That eighth-inning set-up role doesn’t automatically belong to Johnson.
“I think it’s pretty much every year that I’ve got to prove myself all over again,” Johnson said. “By no means do I feel like I’m established to where I want to be. I think I still need to prove things.
“Obviously, with the injuries and stuff last year, it was really frustrating. I felt like, honestly, I came out of spring training and had a good feeling about how things would shake out, and I got slapped across the face pretty good early on.
“I like a lot of the guys we’re bringing in. I’m kind of excited to see what this team will be like on the field. I’m excited to see what the team will be like in the clubhouse. I think I have a little bit to prove to myself and others, but I’m just going to keep going about it the only way I know how. Nothing really too earth-shattering is going to change. I’m definitely focused and ready for the season.”
Johnson was a starter in the minors and would like to get back into a rotation, but he isn’t campaigning for it.
“Sure, I’d like to have four days off. Who wouldn’t? But it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I haven’t had a conversation with Buck. I’m not pressing the issue or anything like that. I’ll just show up in spring training and go about my business. I’m not going to cause a ruckus or anything.”