J.J. ready for Opening Day

It wasn’t classic J.J., but it wasn’t any reason to be alarmed about either.

Josh Johnson’s final tuneup before Opening Day was basically a chance to stretch out to close to 100 pitches.

josh-johnson.jpgThe Marlins ace gave up three solo home runs in 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday against the Mets. He struck out five. About the best news is his pitch count reached 92. Although he had a few full-count situations, he didn’t walk a batter.

“I finally got some consistency,” Johnson said. “I threw some good pitches. But not great results at times.”

It was one of those awkward outings. Johnson was taking the mound against the team he will see in New York Monday on Opening Day at Citi Field.

Typically, teams try to avoid matching pitchers late in Spring Training against teams they will see the first week of the season.

It was unavoidable with Johnson.

Johnson had the task of balancing getting his work in while trying not to reveal too much of what he will throw in five days.

“Of course, I’ve still got to work on some stuff,” Johnson said. “I was trying to not show everything. Show them some stuff, but not everything.”

The Mets, for instance, didn’t match Johan Santana, their Opening Day starter, against the Marlins.

Johnson says there are benefits to avoiding seeing the same hitters.

“Not facing me for six months,” he said. “Maybe there is an element of surprise. They see how my fastball is right now. I don’t think it was great today. It was a little inconsistent.”

A positive from Wednesday is the fact Johnson was back in a competitive environment. A stomach virus caused him to miss his last start. The illness also disrupted his preparation over the past week. He hasn’t been able to run the way he normally does or lift weights.

“It was tough. I haven’t run in five days, which is a little tough,” Johnson said. “Other than that, I was a little behind.”

— Joe Frisaro


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