Johnson feels good following simulated game

Right-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2013

Johnson feels good following simulated game

WASHINGTON -- Nearly four months to the day of his last simulated game, Padres pitcher Josh Johnson went through the paces of doing the same again at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon.

Johnson, working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2014 in addition to a big setback earlier this season, threw 16 pitches to teammates off the mound and came out of it feeling good.

"It was a good day," he said.

It's certainly been a tough go for Johnson, who sped through the rehab process following his elbow surgery on April 24, 2014. He didn't experience a hiccup during the process and then found himself on the mound at Petco Park for that first simulated game on April 28.

Johnson would have likely headed out on a Minor League rehabilitation stint and then, quite possibly, could well have joined the Padres had that simulated game gone well. But it didn't. He developed tightness with the nerves in his neck and halted his throwing program, essentially forcing him to start over.

"It's not fun, but at least I've had these guys [my teammates] around, and with their support, it's been a little bit better," Johnson said. "Still, it's tough to go through, but [I'm] still working hard."

Johnson said he'll likely throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and then there will be some determination made on what happens next.

The Minor League season ends during the first week of September, though there might be a chance for him to pitch in Arizona at the team's Spring Training facility. He'll be a free agent after the season, but Johnson left the door open to returning to the Padres.

Johnson hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2013.

"Anywhere I can pitch, that's pretty much all I want to do. I've pretty much gotten to that point where it doesn't matter where, I want to pitch, I want to be out there competing," he said.

"Today was a lot of fun. I was facing my own teammates, but still there's that competitive edge. It was good to get back that."

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