Steve Johnson tests knee and says he’s ready to pitch (updated)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Steve Johnson threw a light bullpen session today and did some fielding drills to test his left knee. Johnson said he felt “really good” and is ready to pitch if the Orioles need him.

Johnson is wearing a “Hammel brace,” as he called it, similar to the one used by Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel.

“It was just to get off a mound and see how everything felt and it was really good, didn’t feel it one time,” Johnson said. “So, just going to continue treatment, too, and just know that I’m available when they need me.”

Johnson was nailed in the right foot by a Dustin Pedroia grounder during Saturday’s start at Camden Yards. X-rays were negative, but he woke up the following day with pain in his left knee. An MRI on Monday came back clean.

Johnson threw about 15 pitches in the bullpen, then moved to the outfield and simulated fielding ground balls that were rolled to him by pitching coach Rick Adair.

“Everything is good. Didn’t feel it at all,” Johnson said.

Johnson hadn’t thrown off a mound since the injury. Because it was a light session, he’s still “good to go” if the Orioles call upon him to pitch Thursday in a one-game playoff against the Yankees.

“Being in the bullpen kind of helped with that,” he said. “What I did today was mainly just a flat ground, what I would normally do. Just off a mound.”

Johnson is getting used to the brace.

“I can feel it here, but it’s only going to help me out, just to make sure I don’t have too many lateral movements with my knee,” he said. “It kind of keeps it in place. I didn’t feel it one time out there. I feel good.”

For the Rays:
B.J. Upton CF
Ben Zobrist SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Ryan Roberts 2B
Carlos Pena 1B
Sam Fuld LF
Stephen Vogt DH
Chris Gimenez C

Jeremy Hellickson RHP

Rays manager Joe Maddon caused a stir by posting two lineups, including one if the Orioles started left-hander Zach Britton. Manager Buck Showalter only would have considered making a change tonight if Johnson’s bullpen session had gone poorly, which he didn’t anticipate happening.

As a professional courtesy, he notified Maddon of the remote possibility that Britton would start tonight. Maddon ran with it and posted two lineups.

Anyway, it’s still Tillman. As one Orioles coach said, “It still benefits us more to win tonight,” referring to a home tie-breaker or playoff game.

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