After being shut down for the last two months of the season with elbow tightness--one of the more frightening symptoms that can pop up in a pitcher--Brian Johnson has not only resumed throwing, but told WEEI that his UCL looks good as new:
"They said my UCL [ulnar collateral ligament] was like I hadn't even pitched," Johnson said. "It was really, really good. It was nothing ligament-related."
That's one major bullet dodged for Johnson. Whenever elbow tightness comes up, visions of trips to Dr. James Andrews and Tommy John Surgery start flashing through the minds of all but the most optimistic baseball fans, especially in this day and age where it seems so many young pitchers wind up under the knife.
While Johnson is now on track for a normal spring training come 2016, his time on the disabled list was somewhat costly for him, personally. At the time, with Eduardo Rodriguez firmly entrenched in the rotation, Johnson had risen to the top of the list as the first man in line to replace an injured or ineffective starter. But, in his absence, Henry Owens managed to rack up 63 innings of pretty decent pitching for a rookie nearly two years Johnson's junior. It's easy to imagine that Owens has now leapfrogged his fellow southpaw. And with the Red Sox already struggling to find a place to fit all their back-end arms before making any offseason additions, it might be a while before Johnson gets his next big opportunity in Boston.
Still, better to be waiting in line than waiting on the disabled list.