Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson is making his 2012 Honda Classic Pro-Am debut this week. With the start of a new season and the unveiling of a brand new state of the art ballpark, some Miami Marlins players are still able to find time to enjoy some additional R&R.
With guys like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood pacing The Champion Course at PGA National, JJ confessed that stepping up to the first tee would be more terrifying than pitching in the Marlins Opening Day game against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals on April 4th.
“It’ll be a little nerve-racking, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “I can throw in front of 100,000 people, but when you have a club in your hands, it’s a totally different story. You see videos of guys hitting balls into the crowd. I’ll be [saying], ‘Please, just stand back.”’
It’s certainly worth noting that the two-time MLB All-Star is as dominant on the links as he is on the rubber. With a cool 3.7 handicap, new Marlins manager, Ozzie Guillen couldn’t deprive him from having an opportunity to mingle with the world’s best golfers and amateurs before the Marlins 2012 season opener.
“I’m a real big golf fan, so I get to watch the best players of the world come out here and do what they do, it’s pretty impressive,” Guillen said.
Johnson, the 28-year-old, 2010 ERA champ joins Ricky Nolasco, Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano and Brad Hand in the Marlins rotation. Johnson’s 2011 season got off to a very promising start before shoulder inflammation sidelined him for the season.
Johnson’s ability to stay healthy is going to be one of the deciding factors that will decide how well this team does in its inaugural season under its new moniker. With the addition of four new All-Stars, the Fish will certainly be one of the early favorites in the ultra-competitive National League East.
The Marlins’ 2005 Minor League Pitcher of the Year had no-hitters going at least into the fifth inning in four of his first five starts a year ago. During that run, Johnson took a no-no into the 8th inning against the Atlanta Braves before Freddie Freeman recorded a broken-bat single.
“He’s a stud,” said a very complimentary, Buehrle. “It’s going to be exciting to sit on the bench and watch him go out there and dominate. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
In addition, Miami’s bullpen will consist of Heath Bell, Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn, Steve Cishek, Randy Choate, Sean West and Omar Poveda — who will be under the direction of 51-year-old former big leaguer, Randy St. Claire.
Johnson claimed he was back at 100-percent when pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last month. Guillen & Co. were certainly pleased with what they saw from their ace in his first two throwing sessions. Well, at least enough to allow him to go hit golf balls into the large galleries and take his best shot at the infamous “Bear Trap” this weekend at the 2012 Honda Classic.
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