Talking with the O's new closer

O's right-hander Jim Johnson had one career save in the minors and he has three career Major League saves, with two coming this season.

Now he'll get plenty of chances to add to that total.

The 26-year-old now takes over the closer duties for the Orioles after George Sherrill's trade to the Dodgers.

"It's very similar to pitching the 8th inning. It's a critical part of the game and a time I want to be out there," Johnson said.

He's been able to watch Sherrill close games for most of the last two seasons.

"His approach was it's just three outs. No real difference. The thing I learned from him is he had a good routine. Just learning how he went about his business. The ups and downs of it, he handled that better than anybody.

"We talked some here and there. Not just him, but Baez too. All the veterans guys, we help each other out."

Johnson said the last time he pitched with the title of "closer" was some in high school.

"It's by default. It was George's spot, now he's gone and I have to fill his spot. It's just one inning later. There really isn't that big a difference between the 8th and 9th innings.

"People put more emphasis on the stat of closing than they do on a hold. People focus more on those two-out bloop singles in the 9th than they do a two-run homer in the second. That stands out more. You just have to be mentally tough."

"He likes to compete," Dave Trembley said of Johnson. "You see how he came back strong after giving up a homer the other night. His makeup is a plus, he's not afraid. He'll go right at you and he's a power guy."

Johnson is 3-4, 3.17 in 42 games on the year. He picked up saves on May 26th with Toronto and two days ago vs. KC.

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