The left-hander was thought to be the obvious choice to replace lefty Eduardo Rodriguez in the Red Sox’s rotation after Rodriguez slipped and fell while warming up before Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a partially dislocated right kneecap Friday.
But Johnson took a fall of his own Saturday in Durham, N.C.
The 26-year-old was mowing down the Durham Bulls during his start for Triple-A Pawtucket when he fell down after delivering a pitch in the second inning.
Here’s a video of the slip, courtesy of Baseball America’s Josh Norris:
Johnson had struck out the first five batters he faced before exiting the game after that pitch.
But it appears the Red Sox caught a break, as Pawtucket Red Sox manager Kevin Boles said after the game the injury didn’t appear to be serious.
“He slipped on the mound and just extended his knee a little bit,” Boles said, per Norris. “It’s just for precautionary reasons, obviously. He pitched last time in the big leagues, and we’re just going to err on the side of caution. He said (the hamstring) grabbed on him a little bit, so we’re going to err on the side of caution”
The injury came a week after Johnson dazzled in his Fenway Park debut. He tossed a complete-game shutout against the Seattle Mariners, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat in his home debut since Pedro Martinez.
While the injury appears minor, it’s hard to say if Johnson will be able to slide into the Red Sox’s rotation for the injured Rodriguez next weekend against the Detroit Tigers.
The other options to fill Rodriguez’s void include Henry Owens, Kyle Kendrick and Hector Velazquez. None of those appear to be great options for the Red Sox, as Velazquez and Kendrick have been ineffective in their starts at the big league level this season and Owens hasn’t shown an ability to consistently throw strikes. Owens has a 4.04 ERA in Triple-A Pawtucket and is averaging 6.8 walks per nine innings this season.
On a day when David Price relieved many concerns about Boston’s rotation in a 5-2 Red Sox win, Johnson’s injury caused more questions to arise.
More notes from Red Sox vs. Orioles:
— Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg currently is throwing from 90 feet, manager John Farrell told reporters before the game. Thornburg, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, has missed the entire season with a right shoulder impingement.
— Right-hander Carson Smith is scheduled to throw live batting practice Tuesday before the Red Sox’s game at Yankee Stadium, per Farrell. This will be the first time Smith has faced hitters since before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
— Hanley Ramirez recorded his first three-RBI game of the season Saturday against the Orioles.
–With the win Saturday, Price improved to 7-0 all-time at Camden Yards with a career ERA of 2.96.
— Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel surrendered his first hit of the season to a right-handed batter Saturday when Mark Trumbo singled during the ninth inning.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images