TORONTO – Looking to build off one of his few recent positive outings, Josh Johnson is instead headed back to the disabled list with a right forearm strain, the latest thing to go wrong in a season filled with misery for the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander.
The move was made shortly before Tuesday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox after Johnson again experienced a grabbing sensation while releasing the ball while playing catch. Thad Weber was recalled from triple-A Buffalo, and either he or Esmil Rogers will start for Johnson on Wednesday.
The pending free agent threw five shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners last week to pick up his second win of the season, and appeared to have turned the corner during that outing. Those gains may now be lost as he enters a brief shutdown period.
“I finally felt comfortable on the mound, I felt good, I felt like I was getting on top of the baseball, doing what I needed to do to get outs – now I’m not able to go out there on the mound,” Johnson said. “It’s frustrating.”
Plans were hastily being made for an MRI although Johnson said he felt confident the issue was muscular only, on the inside of the forearm by the elbow. "It doesn't feel like it's anything to do with the repair of my Tommy John," he pointed out.
But depending on how much rest he needs and how long he's off, it's possible Johnson may not have enough time to pitch again this season, something he's worried about.
"Of course, that's the only thing I want to do, is be on the mound, especially after how I felt in the last bullpen and the last game," he explained. "That's the one thing I want to do, get back out there, and this is holding me back for sure."
Johnson first experienced the pain after his outing Seattle, but he felt better last week and felt ready to pitch Monday on his scheduled day. But J.A. Happ asked to be moved up in the wake of his grandfather's death, the Blue Jays added Todd Redmond to the rotation in place of Rogers for Tuesday and Johnson was pushed back to Wednesday, just to be on the safe side.
"I felt good coming into today, everything was getting better and better each day, then all of a sudden today I felt the same thing," he said. "I don't know where it came from, how. Before last start that was the best I've felt in three years probably, shoulder, elbow, everything felt where it needed to be. I don't know what happened but when I came out of that start, I was a little sore and tight."
Johnson is 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 16 starts this season. He also missed time in April and May with a right triceps strain.
Weber 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four relief appearances for the Blue Jays this year, and was 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA in 15 games, 12 starts, for the Bisons.
JAYS WAITING TO MAKE DECISION ON RASMUS
The Blue Jays are giving Colby Rasmus until Wednesday to recover from a left oblique problem before deciding whether to make the centre-fielder the 18th different player they've placed on the disabled list this season.
Rasmus tweaked his side Sunday against the Oakland Athletics while facing A.J. Griffin, as he "check-swung and pinched my rib down on my hip bone and one of those muscles got caught up in there."
Based on past experiences, Rasmus feels he needs to take his time with the injury, which was bothered by a sneeze Tuesday morning. He primarily feels it when he bends his left side, leading him to avoid any risk of aggravation to the area.
"It's nothing to play with," said Rasmus, who had a couple of oblique injuries with St. Louis and smaller tweaks with the Blue Jays. "There've been times where I've played through it and it wasn't the best thing for me and the ballclub, so this time I'm just going to try to make sure I do right and try to minimize the time."
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said the injury reminds him of the one Rajai Davis had earlier this season, which he tried to nurse for a few days before heading to the DL. But with the Blue Jays carrying 13 pitchers, they can't afford to draw out the process for long.
"If it doesn't show significant improvement (Wednesday), than it may be something (that) we need to DL him," Anthopoulos said. "We'll have to make a determination unless he comes in feeling really good and we decide to give it a few more days."