JJ eager to make progress in throwing program

Righty eyes bullpen session soon; next step is flat-ground session

JJ eager to make progress in throwing program

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Josh Johnson said he was excited Thursday at the prospect of throwing a bullpen session in the near future, which would be a significant milestone for him in his return from Tommy John surgery last April.

Johnson, who is currently playing long toss three times a week from 180 feet, will increase his distance to 200-plus feet next week, and he will throw twice a week.

"At that point, you're more or less on your own," he said of his throwing program.

The next step, Johnson said, would be to shorten the distance and have his throwing partner get into a catcher's position for a flat-ground session.

"That's a big step, too," Johnson said. "Once you can do that, you feel like you're not just trying to throw through his chest anymore."

Johnson said that if all goes well with those steps that he'll likely be able to throw a bullpen session in the "next week or two," though he might build in an additional week as a precaution.

So far, Johnson said, his rehabilitation program is going about as well as he could imagine, considering he had Tommy John surgery on April 24 -- his second, the first coming in 2007 -- and that he didn't start his throwing program until October.

"I'm excited," said Johnson, who is still looking at a potential May or June return, but only after a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.