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Norris has Johnson mix up offerings in solid outing

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- A different inning resulted in different results for Jim Johnson on Friday night, and his catcher says it was the result of a different approach.

"Everyone knows he's got a good sinker," Derek Norris said Saturday. "I told him, there's never any harm in mixing it up, throwing a breaking ball in what would be your two-seam count. I said, you got to give them a different look. That's kind of what we did last night -- more breaking balls, more changeups, and I think showing hitters, well, he's not just going to go out there and throw sinkers all day."

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SEATTLE -- A different inning resulted in different results for Jim Johnson on Friday night, and his catcher says it was the result of a different approach.

"Everyone knows he's got a good sinker," Derek Norris said Saturday. "I told him, there's never any harm in mixing it up, throwing a breaking ball in what would be your two-seam count. I said, you got to give them a different look. That's kind of what we did last night -- more breaking balls, more changeups, and I think showing hitters, well, he's not just going to go out there and throw sinkers all day."

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Johnson struck out four in two perfect innings, just a day after being removed from the closer's role. He won't be back in there just yet, despite Friday's encouraging performance, but Norris believes it could happen soon.

"Seeing him go two innings and not just one, I like that, because it gives him a chance to throw more pitches and hopefully find out, 'Oh, there it is. There's the feeling I've been looking for,'" he said. "He looked good, and that's the guy everyone expected when he came over here.

"Until they start respecting other pitches, once they start doing that, then he can go back to his sinker and they're not going to be on it as much. He agreed, and 98 percent of the time we were on the same page last night. He wanted to throw some more fastballs, and I said, 'Stay with me,' and he did, and it was nice to see him have a good outing."

Johnson still threw plenty of sinkers, but he also flashed seven curveballs and five changeups in the 30-pitch outing, which manager Bob Melvin deemed his best of the early season.

The right-hander had allowed at least two runs in three of his other five appearances and seven total in just 3 1/3 innings.

"He wants to be back in the ninth," Norris said. "He's looking to prove to get back to that spot, and I think whether he's coming in in the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, he's looking to show everyone, I'm ready for that spot again. And I think that's what he's starting to accomplish, and hopefully he can carry it out."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

 

Oakland Athletics, Jim Johnson, Derek Norris