Update: Matthew smells
According to Baker, we added lefty Tyler Johnson on a minor league deal today, putting the number of potential relievers showing up to ST with the Mariners somewhere between 15 and 3000. A summary of Tyler Johnson's 2008:
Johnson, who was scratched from a scheduled game appearance on Saturday, was diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff and tendinitis in the supraspinatus tendon in his pitching shoulder. He underwent an MRI exam on Monday and got the results on Tuesday. He had been expecting the worst, so the diagnosis came as good news.
"Great news," Johnson said. "I don't have to have surgery."
Cardinals reliever Tyler Johnson will remain out of commission for at least another week, as a re-evaluation of his injured shoulder determined that he is not yet ready to begin throwing again.
"It's significant," said manager Tony La Russa. "We don't have an idea yet when he's actually going to be pitching. So, yeah, it's definitely a setback."
Lefthanded reliever Tyler Johnson had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder to address inflammation in the joint and repair some slight damage to his rotator cuff. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said the extent of the surgery was "nothing surprising" but that the club’s expectation is that Johnson will be out for the year, rehabbing to return for 2009.
So Johnson didn't pitch at all last season. He did get regular playing time the two years previous, though, and as a specialist out of the Cardinal bullpen, he posted a 2.2 K/BB against lefties while holding them to a .228 batting average. Don't pay attention to the fact that lefties have hit for a higher OPS against him than righties - that's a sample size fluke. He's a specialist in every sense of the word.
Whether or not he's a good specialist at this point is the question, and the fact that that's up in the air is the reason why he only landed a minor league contract. If his shoulder is all right, he'll come in with a sinking fastball in the 87-90 range and a pretty sharp slider/slurve thing with a lot of break. He also tinkers around with a curveball to give righties a different look, but it's not much of an offering. He's predominantly a fastball/slurve guy, and he doesn't try to hide it. His slurve's the better pitch. Todd Walker called it "the best slider (he's) ever seen from a left-handed pitcher," but then considering Todd Walker had seven career at bats against RJ, I think Todd Walker may have been either lying or retarded.
If Johnson's pitches look good, he'll have a shot to break camp as a LOOGY. If they don't, he won't. Simple as that. Just another interesting arm to add to the every-man-for-himself bullpen death match that's set to take place this spring.
I wonder if hearing about all this bullpen competition in ST gives George Sherrill the shakes.