As if things weren't bad enough for the Florida Marlins already. It looks like the return of staff ace Josh Johnson could be delayed yet again, the cherry on top of a dismal June during which the Marlins have managed to win only 3 games.
Johnson may have hit another bump in the road to recovery from his right shoulder injury, experiencing stiffness in his recovering throwing shoulder. He will have his shoulder examined by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.
Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest told the Miami Heraldthis week, "He threw a [bullpen session] on Friday and reported a little bit more stiffness and just didn't feel right," leading to the decision to take another look at the shoulder.
Earlier this month the Marlins moved Johnson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. He resumed throwing on June 17, and had pitched a handful of bullpen sessions since then. He will not be eligible to rejoin the team until July 17 at the earliest, but that best-case scenario is looking less likely to play out.
Johnson "was right on the throwing progression to come back that first week after the All-Star break," Beinfest told the Herald. "That's obviously in jeopardy now."
The Marlins have seen nearly everything go wrong in June, but losing their best pitcher - and one of the top throwers in baseball - has been perhaps the biggest disappointment.
"He's a streak-stopper, Beinfest said of Johnson. "So, yeah, we definitely do miss that, because you know every fifth day when he goes out there what he's able to do."
Instead the Marlins will continue to use one of their minor league starters to take his place in the rotation (likely either Brad Hand or Elih Villanueva), and Marlins fans will have to wait a little longer for the face of the franchise to make his (hopefully) triumphant return.
David Hill is a Miami native and cofounder of Marlins Diehards, the only Florida Marlins blog with perspective on the eccentricities of Marlins fandom.