Marlins' Johnson To Miss 2 Months

Tuesday, March 6th 2007, 9:22 am
By: News On 6

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) _ Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson finally has a diagnosis for his sore arm _ an irritated ulnar nerve that will likely force him to miss at least the first two months of the season.

Johnson was relieved to learn the injury wasn't worse.

``If it was real bad, I'd probably be out for four months,'' he said Tuesday. ``It's good to know exactly what it is.''

Johnson said his arm first hurt while he was lobbing a ball Jan. 19. The location of the pain has since moved and is now above the elbow.

Tests on Monday revealed the source of the pain after earlier tests indicated no bone or muscle damage. The nerve is expected to heal with rest, and the best-case scenario is that Johnson would begin throwing in a month.

Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA as a rookie in 2006. Marlins officials who feared he might need season-ending surgery welcomed the diagnosis.

``Good news,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``I'm glad for him. It's better than the alternative.''

Johnson missed the final three weeks of last season with a strained muscle in his forearm. He said he doubts there's a connection between that injury and his more recent ailment.

``I went through the whole offseason throwing program fine,'' Johnson said.

Candidates to take his spot in the rotation include right-handers Yusmeiro Petit, Wes Obermueller, Sergio Mitre and Jose Garcia, and left-hander Chris George.

``It's wide open,'' Gonzalez said. ``Anybody in camp could conceivably be in that rotation.''

Johnson hasn't thrown from a mound since spring training began, but he'll continue to take part in some camp drills, including fielding for pitchers.

``Throwing left-handed with the glove _ that's all I do now,'' he said.