Johnson ready to take over as closer
O's right-hander eager to follow in Sherrill's footsteps
BALTIMORE -- With George Sherrill now pitching in the National League, the Orioles are suddenly in need of a closer to fill the void.
Enter Jim Johnson.
Johnson will assume the closer duties for the Orioles, who dealt Sherrill to the Dodgers on Thursday for prospects Josh Bell and Steve Johnson. Sherrill accumulated 20 saves in 42 games for Baltimore, posting a 2.40 ERA. Now, it'll be Johnson's turn to step into the closer role.
"It's very similar to pitching in the eighth inning," Johnson said about switching from a setup role. "It's a pivotal time of the game. It's the time I want to be out there."
Johnson said his approach and style will be similar to his former teammate's, who, according to Johnson, held the mentality that "it's just three outs."
Johnson also said the thing he learned the most from Sherrill is the daily routine and how to handle what comes along with being in the closer position.
"Just seeing that firsthand [helped]," Johnson said. "We talked about it here and there, and not just him, [Danys] Baez, too -- all of the veteran guys that we have. We help each other out."
This season, Johnson is 3-4 with two saves in 48 1/3 innings. Despite giving up a game-tying home run against Kansas City on Tuesday, Johnson bounced back the next day, pitching a season-high two innings and striking out four Royals in an Orioles win. It's his ability to rebound after a rough outing that manager Dave Trembley says will assure that he'll find success as the closer.
"He likes to compete, [for] one [thing]," Trembley said. "Two, you see how he bounces back when he gave up the home run the other day, he's probably going to come back a little stronger. ... He'll go at you. He's not timid."
And while Trembley is confident his new closer will succeed, Johnson says it's all about focusing on the mental aspects.
"I just think people put more emphasis on the stats of a save than they do a hold," Johnson said. "People focus more on those two-out bloop singles in the ninth than they do those two-run homers in the second. That's the thing that stings. And that's the thing that stands out more. You've got to be mentally tough."
Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.