Brian Johnson is driving his teammates nuts.
The Boston Red Sox promoted Johnson on July 11 after placing pitcher Clay Buchholz on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury. The 24-year-old left-hander still is waiting to make his major league debut — something he’ll finally do Tuesday night against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park — and the anticipation is killing him.
“I’m starting to get made fun of,” Johnson said jokingly Sunday in Anaheim, Calif., according to CSNNE.com. “(My teammates were asking) ‘Can you not sit still, man?’ I was throwing bunts to myself off the wall just to stay busy. I don’t like not being active. During games, I’m looking for stuff, I’m talking to (bench coach) Torey (Lovullo), talking baseball. I just love baseball. I’m very, very happy to be here.”
It’s been more than two weeks since Johnson appeared in a game. He last pitched July 6 for Triple-A Pawtucket. It could be a blessing in disguise, as the Red Sox most certainly will monitor his workload this season, but it’s a unique development for the 2012 first-round pick, nevertheless.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen when I got here,” Johnson said. “(The) layoff has been abnormal. For me, I wanted to get off the mound as much as possible because my last start (scheduled for Pawtucket) was the day I got called up. So this is a little different.”
Johnson initially joined the Red Sox’s bullpen upon earning his first major league call-up, but he wasn’t needed in Boston’s final series before the All-Star break. Now, he’s penciled in for the Red Sox’s fifth game after the break, which is important given that the club has lost five straight.
Surely, there will be some nerves when Johnson first takes the mound Tuesday night. He already has received some advice from fellow rookie Eduardo Rodriguez and veteran starter Wade Miley, though. Johnson at least has an idea of what to expect.
“Rodriguez said, ‘Once you get that first hitter out of the way, that’s like having a million pounds off your shoulders and then you settle in,’ ” Johnson said, according to CSNNE.com. “I think he said in his pregame warmup, he was all over the place and then once he got that first hitter, he was fine.
“Wade pulled me aside (Saturday), and he’s someone I’ve looked up to since spring training. He said, ‘Go out there and have fun. Go up, just attack and do what’s gotten you here.’ ”
Johnson has been waiting, albeit impatiently, to take the ball for Boston. His big league debut could mark the beginning of a long, successful career with the Red Sox.
At the very least, it’ll allow Johnson to finally take a deep breath.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images