SARASOTA, Fla. - Today’s game between the Orioles and Team Spain lasted 3 hours, 40 minutes.
Jim Johnson was only responsible for part of it.
Johnson, making his first appearance this spring, allowed an unearned run and one hit in the eighth inning. His appearance was brief compared to many others on this blustery day.
“I got a couple fastballs up,” he said. “Other than that, I’m a lot better than where I was at this point last year.”
Johnson was slowed in camp last spring because of soreness in his lower back. Manager Buck Showalter has slow-played him this spring because of how long the team will be in Florida.
“It was good to get back out there,” said Johnson, who saved a franchise-record 51 games in 54 chances last year. “Just getting ready for the season like everybody else. It was a good work day. I got what I needed out of it.”
Showalter won’t use Johnson again until Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sarasota.
“And then after that, if things change, things change,” Johnson said. “We’ve got it set up that I will do a little bit of everything. I will do back-to-back, I’ll do maybe an inning-plus or something like that. We kind of have it all laid out as to where we’re going to finish so that we’re ready. I get like two days off before the season starts.”
This wasn’t a typical outing for Johnson, and not only because he was facing Team Spain. How often does he enter a game with a 13-run lead?
“I was actually pretty good on my in and out, but my up and down was a little off,” Johnson said. “I threw one good breaking ball. I kind of surprised myself. I threw a couple of decent changeups, so everything I got out of it, I felt good today, and that’s all that really matters.”
Three other pitchers made their Grapefruit League debuts besides Johnson: Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day and Eduardo Rodriguez.
“That was the whole idea. Just get them out there,” Showalter said.
“Too bad we had to wait so long. The mound was torn up by the time they got out there. That was the biggest problem they had. The whole thing was bowled out where they were landing.”
Showalter said Johnson, Ayala and O’Day won’t always pitch on the same day.
“We’ll pick our spots with them,” he said. “I’m going to treat each one a little differently.”
Starter Jake Arrieta allowed an unearned run and three hits in three innings. Zach Britton surrendered three runs and four hits in two innings.
“We’ve got 30 mph winds blowing out there,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those things you get through. If this was two weeks for now, you’d look at it a little differently. As long as they feel good and their arms feel good...
“They feel good physically and that’s good enough for me right now.”
The Orioles will make cuts on Thursday, with four to six players expected to be reassigned to minor league camp.