Johnson finishes encouraging rebound season

Johnson finishes encouraging rebound season

MIAMI -- After missing most of last season with right shoulder inflammation, Josh Johnson had a couple of personal goals heading into the season, one of which was making every one of his scheduled starts.

The Marlins righty fell one start shy of that goal after he was scratched from Monday's series opener against the Mets due to what manager Ozzie Guillen described as a sore hip flexor and hamstring.

"JJ is done," Guillen said. "The last game he was very sore. ... I think we should shut him down. I don't think it's worth it."

Guillen said the injury isn't serious, and that if the Marlins were in playoff contention that there's "no doubt" Johnson would have been able to pitch. However, with the Marlins in the National League East cellar, Guillen didn't want to take the risk. Instead, left-hander Wade LeBlanc made his ninth start of the year.

Johnson finished his season 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 31 starts a year after making just nine starts. He was 8 2/3 innings shy of reaching the 200-innings mark for the second time in his career. He threw 209 innings in 2009.

He pitched better than his record showed, as he got just 2.92 runs of support per nine innings, the lowest in the Majors among pitchers with at least 30 starts.

"For me, to have this kid out there every start without missing any start or having a setback, to me it was a very, very good season for him," Guillen said.

Johnson, the Marlins' Opening Day starter, may have had a down year, statistically, but he was quite effective at Marlins Park. In 17 starts, he had a 2.96 ERA and struck out a team-high 100 in 109 1/3 innings, matching Mark Buehrle's innings pitched at home.

Guillen expects an even better year from Johnson in '13.

"Now that I've managed him a year and now that he's a year healthy, I expect a lot better from him, but I expect a lot better from my ballclub, too, to help him to win games," Guillen said. "JJ was very bad in the beginning. ... I think after the first three starts, he threw the ball well.

"Hopefully we don't have to go through rehab to deal with this the whole winter, and he shows up in Spring Training ready to go and we see a better pitcher."