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Josh Johnson feels good after first start since last May

Mar 6, 2012, 11:33 AM EDT

Josh Johnson AP AP

The Marlins enter spring training with plenty of excitement after changing their name, logo and uniforms and making some pretty splashy additions, but they’ll have a tough time contending if they don’t get the old Josh Johnson back. He took a step in the right direction yesterday.

Johnson threw 41 pitches over 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his first start since being placed on the disabled list last May with right shoulder inflammation. He retired the first five batters he faced (including two strikeouts) before reaching his pitch count after giving up a single, a double and a walk to load the bases.

Of course, the results are secondary at this point. The important part is that Johnson topped out around 94 mph with his fastball and told Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post that his shoulder feels good.

“It was good to get it of the way,” he said. “Shoulder feels great so that’s a big step.”

Johnson could make his next start Sunday against the Mets. The Marlins hope to have their ace right-hander ready for the season opener against the Cardinals on April 4 as they open their new stadium in Little Havana.

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