JJ on track to reach goal of making every start

JJ on track to reach goal of making every start

MIAMI -- Coming into the season, Josh Johnson had no innings limit placed on him, and he doesn't expect there to be one for the rest of the season.

Making every start was the goal at the beginning of the year, and the Miami ace remains on track to do so.

On Tuesday, the right-hander will be making his 24th start when the Marlins face the Phillies. He's at 139 1/3 innings.

A year ago, Johnson's season was cut short after nine starts and 60 1/3 innings due to shoulder inflammation.

"I've been fortunate to keep it going for this long," Johnson said, repeating his objective. "Make all my starts. No time [on the disabled list]. No anything like that. The shoulder feels awesome. I haven't felt anything in my shoulder. No weakness."

Johnson works regularly with strength and conditioning coach Ty Hill, and everything in the shoulder remains sound.

While Johnson missed most of last year with a shoulder problem, he didn't require surgery.

But in 2007, Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He returned for 14 starts and 87 1/3 innings in the second half of '08. Johnson didn't have any innings limit in '09, and that year, he was an All-Star and posted a 15-5 record with a 3.23 ERA.

The 209 innings he threw that year remain a career high.

Johnson is watching with interest on how the Nationals are handling Stephen Strasburg, who is returning from Tommy John surgery. Washington has set an innings limit on its All-Star.

"I've been keeping an eye on that, seeing where that one goes," Johnson said.

Johnson said he was never given an innings limit, or even had one suggested by Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, or anyone on the Marlins' medical staff.

"Knowing the competitor I am, and I'm sure [Strasburg] is, too -- he is going to want to be out there, no matter what," Johnson said. "No matter what his pitch limit is or anything like that, he's going to want to be out there. It's going to be hard to tell him no, especially shutting him down, if they're going to the playoffs and being in the middle of that. If there is a Game 7 to be won, or a Game 5 or whatever, it's going to be hard to say no to that arm."

In his recovery from Tommy John, Johnson remembers former strength coach Paul Fournier saying he would feel great his first full season back.

"He was like, 'Your first full year after surgery, you're just going to take off, and you're going to feel the best,'" Johnson said. "I heard that, and I was like, 'Wow, I can't wait for that to come around.' He was right on. He was the rehab coordinator, so he got to deal with Tommy John surgeries and everything.

"At the end of the year, I felt great. All of a sudden, I come in the next year and I felt fine. Then all of a sudden, my shoulder blows up."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.