Looking to rejuvenate his career, right-hander Josh Johnson of San Diego made a successful spring debut on Monday in the Padres' 7-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Johnson, who signed a one-year, $8 million US free-agent contract with San Diego after spending the 2013 season with Toronto, pitched two hitless innings and struck out two.
He was on the disabled list for part of 2013 and had surgery on Oct. 1 to remove bone spurs and loose cartilage in his right elbow.
The six-foot-seven Johnson was pleased with his outing.
"I executed most of my pitches most of the time, did what I wanted. If I wanted to go in, I was in. I threw a couple of good change-ups and a good slider," he said from Scottsdale, Ariz. "Everything was comfortable. I wasn't fighting myself or my body."
He doesn't know if he will be able to approach the level that enabled him to lead the National League in earned-run average (2.30) in 2010 while with the then-Florida Marlins, but he was encouraged.
"I threw the best change-ups I had since I was in the minor leagues," he said.
After going a combined 26-11 with 377 strikeouts for the Marlins in 2009-10, Johnson had his season cut short a year later with shoulder trouble. He went just 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 2012 before he was traded to the Blue Jays after the season.
Johnson said he struggled with his "extension" in Toronto because of elbow problems. It led to command issues, and getting balls up in the strike zone in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre proved costly.
Johnson went 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA and allowed 15 home runs in 16 starts as the Blue Jays were one of the more disappointing teams in baseball.
After the elbow surgery, the Blue Jays decided not to give him a qualifying offer. Johnson then told his agent he wanted to play for San Diego or San Francisco, so he could be closer to his Las Vegas home.
He took the Padres' offer, taking a pay cut from the four-year, $39 million deal he signed with the Marlins.
Now he joins a franchise looking to rebound from consecutive 76-86 seasons, with free agency looming again next off-season.