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Josh Johnson coming along

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Josh Johnson is progressing nicely.

Josh Johnson was expected to return from Tommy John surgery in late August or early September, but he is far ahead of that pace, and the Marlins believe he will be back around the All-Star break.

That idea received a huge boost Monday when Johnson pitched in his first game since leaving the mound July 4, 2007, with pain after throwing five scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres.

Johnson went five innings Monday and gave up five hits and one run in an extended spring training game against the Cardinals. He is set to start again in five days and remain on a normal rotation until he is ready to join the Marlins.

''That's good news,'' said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who plans to put Johnson in the rotation when Johnson rejoins the team. ``If he's healthy, he will be a starter.''


I'm not so sure about that after the All-Star break return date.  The thing to remember is that recovering from Tommy John surgery is not a linear progression.  Normally, there are good days and then some setbacks.  But it is good news that he was able to throw five innings in an extended spring training game.  Johnson is young, big and strong so he could shorten the time table but I doubt it will be midseason.

The other thing to remember is that once he rejoins the club he won't be the same pitcher he was before he was injured.  It just doesn't work that way.  When he is proclaimed as healthy, he will probably be hit and miss for awhile in his starts.  Eventually he should return to form but it won't be immediately. 

Still, it is nice to hear that he is making good progress.