In an ideal world, Erik Johnson wouldn’t see the mound for the White Sox during this trip to the majors.
It’s not that White Sox manager Robin Ventura lacks confidence in Johnson, who was promoted to the majors on Tuesday.
That’s hardly the case.
It’s just that if Ventura has to use Johnson -- who has started 101 of 104 professional games -- it would require another contest like Monday, when Carlos Rodon recorded only one out before he was removed. Johnson arrived from Charlotte on Tuesday and is an insurance policy after Ventura had to burn through the front end of his bullpen to record the game’s final 26 outs.
While he can entirely rule them out, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Dan Jennings are essentially unavailable after they combined for seven innings.
“He’s there for a security blanket,” Ventura said. “After (Monday’s) game, you need innings."
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Barring something unforeseen you’d like to stay away from those guys as much as you can.”
“I hope we don’t need him.
“I have confidence in him, but that means we’re having another game like last night if he gets in there.”
Johnson is happy to be back in the big leagues, no matter what the reason.
He believes progress was made with his fastball command after he was returned to Charlotte last month. Johnson feels like he’s back on track after a slow start to spring. He touched 93 mph on the radar gun on Thursday night for the Knights and sat near 90. He struck out seven and only allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
Ventura suggested Johnson, the 2015 International League pitcher of the year, could stay with the White Sox at least through the end of the homestand, which ends Sunday. The White Sox are in a stretch where they play 19 games in 19 days.
“It’s a great feeling any time I get the call,” Johnson said. “So I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to support the team in any way I can.”
The White Sox had to send outfielder J.B. Shuck back to Charlotte in order to recall Johnson. Shuck is one of the few players on the roster that has minor-league options.
“That’s the brutal side of baseball,” Ventura said. “We definitely need an arm, and he’s the guy that ends up going. Nothing that he has done that warrants it, but you need an arm, and he becomes the guy. So hopefully he goes down and gets some at-bats and can get back up here.”