After struggling mightily in his recent outings, Braves reliever Jim Johnson landed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with what was diagnosed as a strained right groin.
The veteran right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.90 ERA in 15 appearances and was scored upon in each of his past four outings, giving up six hits (two home runs), eight runs and two walks in three innings for a 24.00 ERA and .400 opponents’ average in that span.
“J.J.’s been pitching with a little bit of discomfort,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Nothing hurt. (But) you know when you don’t have your legs under you as a pitcher, to try to compete at the major league level is not a good combination. We feel like it’s nothing major, that within the 16th, 17th day on the DL we could see him up here again.”
Johnson, 32, re-signed with the Braves this winter, after pitching for them last season before he was traded to the Dodgers as part of the three-team blockbuster trade that brought Hector Olivera to Atlanta.
After posting a 2.25 ERA and nine saves in 49 appearances for the Braves, Johnson had a 10.13 ERA in 23 games for the Dodgers and was left off their postseason roster. After he was released by the Dodgers in October, Johnson had double-hernia surgery.
He re-signed with the Braves on Nov. 30 for $2.5 million.
Johnson briefly appeared to be getting back close to top form when he strung together seven scoreless appearances between April 15 and April 28, allowing only two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings during that period. But then he gave up four hits and five runs over two appearances at Chicago on April 29 and May 1, recording only one out in each of those games.
He didn’t pitch again for five days, then gave up home runs in consecutive appearances Friday and Sunday against Arizona, the latter a two-run homer in the 11th inning of a 5-3 loss.
“We sat down with him on Sunday after the game and talked to him for a long time, and we told him what we wanted him to do,” Gonzalez said. “We said we’ll have a plan set for when you get back. Our No. 1 goal is for him to be healthy, for him to pitch like he did the first half of the season last year — I mean, they’re might not have been another right-handed reliever in the National League that had his kind of numbers that first half.
“Again, I think he’ll be fine come 16, 17 days, whenever he’s ready. We’ve got a plan, he’s going to pitch, he’s going to rehab in Orlando and all that kind of stuff, strengthening, and hopefully we get him back soon.”