Johnson expects to be in bullpen in 2012

Jim Johnson shook hands with reporters, smiled and said, “I don’t know.”

Hey, we’re supposed to ask the questions before you answer them.

Johnson knew what was coming. Is he going to be a starter or reliever this season?

“You guys probably know more than I do,” he said.

“I’ll be in the bullpen. I’m pretty sure about that.”

As the closer?

“We’ll figure that out in the spring,” he replied.

The Orioles are leaning toward keeping Johnson in a relief role, and he could be the ninth-inning guy unless they sign a closer.

For now, we’ll just go with bullpen role.

“I’m not putting too much weight into anything else other than getting ready for the season,” he said.

Doesn’t it feel a little strange not knowing how he’ll be used? He’s usually shown up at spring training confident that he’ll be the set-up man.

“I guess,” he said. “I really don’t try to do anything different. I just try to show up ready to pitch and in shape, ready to go.

“You know how spring training starts. There’s always somebody who gets hurt, there’s always something that happens, so we’ll see. Obviously, things might change, roles might change in the spring. I know it’s easier for you guys to know titles and specifics, but we just don’t know yet. Time will tell.”

Johnson said he’s “a little bit” disappointed that he won’t get a chance to start, “but things happen for a reason.”

At least Johnson’s contract is settled. He agreed to a $2.625 million deal before salary figures had to be exchanged.

“I don’t think it would have been a big deal anyway,” he said. “Stuff gets settled usually before camp.”

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