In Closing, Johnson Has Simple Plan

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 22, 2008

BALTIMORE, Aug. 21 -- Jim Johnson, the plain-spoken Baltimore Orioles reliever, has enjoyed a breakout season partly by not complicating things. So with the tall right-hander at the front of the line to close games in the absence of the injured George Sherrill, Johnson said he will continue taking a simple approach.

"I'm not going to approach it differently," he said. "If I'm having success doing it one way, there's no reason to really change. So I think it's just the same mentality in the eighth and ninth."

As the Orioles' top setup man this season, Johnson has been stellar with a 2.33 ERA in 65 2/3 innings. And with Sherrill out, Orioles Manager Dave Trembley said he believes Johnson has the mental toughness to fill in. But Trembley stopped short of naming Johnson the closer while Sherrill is on the disabled list.

"I'll play it game by game and situation by situation," Trembley said.

Still, the manager acknowledged that Johnson would figure prominently into the mix.

"It's just one inning later, that's the only difference," said Johnson, who has one career save. "Eighth inning and ninth inning, it's the same idea. It's just that the ninth inning is the last one -- hopefully."

Minor Adjustments for Olson

After a promising start to the season devolved into another frustrating major league experience, left-hander Garrett Olson hopes his demotion to Class AAA Norfolk on Wednesday will be his last.

"I think it's going to be good for me to go down there, get a couple of a starts and hopefully gain some momentum for the rest of the year," said Olson, whose command problems cost him his rotation spot, then his roster spot.

Olson showed signs of progress early on, going 4-1 with a 4.09 ERA in his first five starts with the Orioles. But after that, he was 4-5 with a 7.37 ERA.

Right-hander Radhamés Liz, demoted last month after a bout of command problems, will be called up to start in Olson's place against the New York Yankees on Friday.

Liz went 2-2 with a 2.66 ERA, 56 strikeouts and just 23 walks since the Orioles optioned him to Norfolk on July 27.

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