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Pinpointing the Problem

Josh Johnson underwent some more test yesterday and they are closer to identifying the problem.

Right-hander Josh Johnson has an irritation of the ulnar nerve, and tests, including an MRI on Friday, are being conducted to pinpoint the cause of the problem, according to a source familiar with the situation.

"Every effort is being made to find the cause of the irritation," the source said. "If it can't be found, it's important to be sure nothing else is wrong."

Worst case, Johnson could miss the entire season if a bigger problem is discovered. Otherwise, determining a timetable for his return is speculative. Nerve irritations are much harder to predict than muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.

Nothing much new here but they are getting closer to determining exactly what is wrong.  And with the added information it also raises the prospects of season ending surgery.

But he could face surgery, followed by a two- to three-month rehabilitation if the team eventually confirms its suspicions about possible nerve damage in his biceps/triceps area.

We should know soon the exact cause of his continual discomfort, that is, assuming it can be determined, fairly soon.  Fredi had this to say about the situation:

Manager Fredi Gonzalez didn't offer any updates on Johnson but he was confident that the Marlins have enough depth on their spring training roster to fill any gaps in the starting rotation.

"I'm not going to say, 'My mom told me there would be days like this,' '' Gonzalez said with a smile when asked about dealing with injured players so early in spring training during his rookie managerial season.

"But a (baseball friend) that I highly respect told me one day drinking coffee this winter, he said, 'You know what? You can count on (a key player getting hurt).' You've just got to go on. You might find another Dontrelle.

"You've got five young starters or five veteran starters, you can count on somebody going down. That's just the numbers thing, the odds. Hopefully you get through it as a team.''

Hopefully, Fredi is just preparing us for the off-chance that the worst case scenario plays out.  Though his comments can be read as if he isn't expecting Johnson to be a part of the rotation anytime in the near future.

The language in the reports makes it sound more and more likely that Johnson won't log an inning this season.  It may be that everyone is being overly cautious, but I'm starting to think they aren't.  In fact, if I had to bet right now, I would bet he doesn't pitch for the Marlins this season.  And it is a bet I love to lose.