Updating Orioles' interest in Jim Johnson

Orioles pitching rehab coordinator Scott McGregor left Baltimore today and is headed to Sarasota, Fla., to watch reliever Jim Johnson throw a bullpen session Monday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

Johnson, who lives in Sarasota, is free to sign with any team after the Athletics released him over the weekend.

johnson-jim-white-sidebar-pitch.jpgManager Buck Showalter spoke of the Orioles' interest in Johnson and the former closer's solid relationship with McGregor, who spent the past two days filling in as pitching coach while Dave Wallace attended his daughter's wedding. However, the Orioles had to wait until today to take the next step and arrange a workout.

"We like Jimmy," Showalter said. "He pitched real well for us here. He's on his way to Sarasota. I know Scotty McGregor is real close to him. And if he becomes completely available, I'm sure a lot of people would have interest in him, including us."

He's completely available.

There are approximately 10 teams expressing interest in Johnson. He would have to settle for a minor league deal in order to be reunited with the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2001.

The Orioles could keep Johnson in Florida while he works on his mechanics and perhaps assign him to Double-A Bowie. He would be an option in September when rosters expand.

The A's designated Johnson for assignment on July 24 after he went 4-2 with a 6.92 ERA in 38 appearances. He allowed 60 hits, walked 23 and struck out 28 in 40 1/3 innings for a 2.058 WHIP.

Johnson no longer had a role with Oakland, and fans routinely booed him while he went 0-2 with a 12.21 ERA in 17 home games. He was 4-0 with a 4.10 ERA in 21 road games.

Johnson allowed seven earned runs in his last three appearances covering two innings, and 11 runs in his last five appearances over 4 1/3 innings.

Before the Dec. 2 trade, Johnson saved 101 games for the Orioles over the past two seasons. He's long been a favorite of Showalter, but the Orioles didn't want to risk paying him $10 million in arbitration.

Johnson figures to sign later this week.

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