Johnson is a No Go

This doesn't look good at all.

Unless Josh Johnson starts feeling better immediately and for the rest of spring training, the Marlins will open the season without him in the rotation.

Saturday, Johnson felt enough soreness in the inside of his forearm to bag a scheduled throwing session. Earlier this week Johnson played catch two days in a row and didn't feel good after the second day.

"We shut him down and are going back to step one," said manager Fredi Gonzalez, adding Johnson would need to start building arm strength as soon as possible to be ready for the start of the season. "We're borderline right now."

Trust me, he won't be ready.  Fredi and Rick Kranitz had this to say.

"You guys know the math. If he's not on the hill (soon) he becomes an opening-day roster issue. We're borderline now,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday.

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"We're not going to rush him ... and get him back before he's ready to get back,'' pitching coach rick Kranitz said. "Whether it's April 1, April 15 or May 1, I want to make sure he is healthy and ready to go. When he steps on that major-league field, I want him to be healthy the rest of the year.''

It is only a good thing they aren't going to rush him and there is no need to.  Heck, he can't even throw off flat ground without some problems, so don't be surprised if he opens the season on the DL.  I'm just hoping he can avoid surgery and that is not a given at this point.  

The way I see it the Marlins target date to win their third World Series trophy is 2008.  Meaning they can and should be careful with the young arms.  They are, after all, the strength of the team and rushing Johnson back would just be a folly.

So who will take Johnson's spot in the rotation?  Mitre isn't ready to go so speculation has two possible front runners.  One being Yusmeiro Petit and the other being Chris George.

But with right-hander Josh Johnson possibly opening the season on the disabled list, Grapefruit League games that start Wednesday will be more meaningful than ever for George.

George hasn't pitched in the majors since 2004, but he has the most big-league starting experience among the candidates mentioned by manager Fredi Gonzalez to plug any rotation holes.

"I realize it's going to be a long shot for me to really have a chance to make this team just because they have so many young guys who are so talented," he said. "At the same time, I feel like I've never thrown the ball better than I did last year."

George went 5-6 with a 5.62 ERA for Class AAA Albuquerque. where manager Dean Treanor helped him with his breaking pitches.

George, 27, has started 44 games in the majors in parts of four seasons with Kansas City. He was 9-6 with a 7.11 ERA when he made the opening-day roster in 2003.

"Should I make it back, it's going to be a lot more meaningful for me," said George, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team in 2000. "I won't be so star-struck."

Once again, that would give the Marlins three left-handed starters and I'm not sure the club would want to do that.  I think Maverick is right, if Petit can perform decently during spring training the spot will fall to him.

If the club doesn't have a problem with three lefties in the rotation then Pinto will also be in the mix.  But honestly, I don't think they will do that, so my money is on Petit

Here are Chris George's career stats.

Of course there is always this option:

While the team has yet to officially announce its rotation for the regular season, some indications are surfacing as to how the starters will line up. Based on off-days on April 5 and April 12, the team may even consider going with a four-man rotation for a couple of weeks.

The Marlins may very well go with a four man rotation for a couple of weeks but eventually the fifth starter will have to be addressed and as it presently stands, Johnson won't be one of the five.

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