PHOENIX (AP) New Oakland closer Jim Johnson was glad to get through his first outing of the spring with the Athletics, and manager Bob Melvin is allowing him to prepare at his own pace.
”Guys like him you don’t worry about,” Melvin said after the Athletics’ 11-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
The A’s acquired Johnson, last year’s AL saves leader, for Jemile Weeks in a December trade with the Baltimore Orioles. Johnson converted 50 of 59 save opportunities, going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA, with the Orioles.
Johnson signed to a 1-year, $10 million deal in January to replace Grant Balfour, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.
He wanted to throw as many fastballs as he could against the Brewers as he tries to establish command of the strike zone.
”I have a game plan for what I want to accomplish,” Johnson said. ”I felt like I was holding the runner at first if that makes a difference.”
He felt good about what he accomplished in his one inning of work. He allowed three hits, including a home run, and struck out one.
”I gave up one fly ball, so overall I did my job to keep the ball on the ground,” Johnson said. ”Now I will sit down and figure out what I want to work on for the next time.”
The one fly ball was Juan Francisco’s second home run of the game. Francisco also hit one against A’s starter Tommy Milone.
”That was a ball down to a low-ball hitter,” Melvin said. ”He was just working on commanding his stuff.”
There was one scary moment when Johnson and A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson went after a bunt and collided. Donaldson came up limping a bit and jogged around the infield to shake it off.
”I’m glad he wasn’t hurt there,” said Johnson, who thought he would be able to catch the ball in the air.