Notes: Reds take chance on Johnson

Notes: Reds take chance on Johnson

LOS ANGELES -- It had been two weeks since Wayne Krivsky added a veteran pitcher to the Reds' staff.

The general manager must have felt itchy.

On Wednesday, right-handed starter Jason Johnson was brought aboard after he signed a Minor League contract. Johnson is joining his third organization this season. The 32-year-old was 3-12 with a 6.35 ERA in 20 starts for the Red Sox and Indians.

"He's an experienced guy that's pitched a lot of innings over the years," Krivsky said of the 34th acquisition he's made since he became GM in February. "Coming over to the National League, we'll see."

With Johnson, the owner of a 55-98 record and a 5.00 ERA lifetime, he's also a bit of a gamble for Cincinnati. But the club is fighting to make its first postseason since 1995 and hasn't had much luck with the fifth starter's role this season. Krivsky also indicated that the career starter could be utilized from the bullpen.

"He's got a good arm that we want to take a chance on," Krivsky said from his Cincinnati office. "It's another arm to bring up in September to help us with our depth."

Johnson was 8-13 with a 4.54 ERA in 33 starts last season with the Tigers, posting a career-high 210 innings. Signed as a free agent by Cleveland before this season, Johnson was dealt to Boston on June 21, but he was released earlier this month after he went 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in six starts.

The Reds scheduled Johnson to start for Triple-A Louisville on Friday, and with rosters being expanded that same day, he could be promoted if all goes well.

"He hasn't pitched in a while," Krivsky said. "We want to get him into a game situation at Triple-A and see what happens."

The fifth starter's spot comes up again Tuesday for the Reds. Manager Jerry Narron indicated that Chris Michalak would get the assignment. Michalak was optioned to Class A Sarasota in a procedural move that allowed the club to call up outfielder Chris Denorfia to be eligible for the postseason roster.

"If everything stays like it is, Michalak would be back," Narron said.

Innings overload? Reliever Todd Coffey, who threw in the last three games, has racked up 18 appearances in August entering Wednesday. It's the most games by a Reds pitcher since Wayne Granger had 20 appearances in September 1969.

The 25-year-old Coffey, in his second big-league season, has thrown 66 innings in 68 appearances. Another young reliever, 23-year-old Bill Bray, has also had a heavy workload lately by working three of the last four games -- including two innings Tuesday.

Narron said he's trying to be mindful of not overusing his bullpen's younger arms.

"Very much so," Narron said. "We're trying to keep Bill Bray to one inning, and it seems like we haven't had a choice here recently using him multiple innings. Hopefully, after [Friday], we'll keep him to one inning."

The day after: Not surprisingly on Wednesday, reliever Ryan Franklin had little to say after Tuesday's 6-5, 16-inning loss to the Dodgers.

"One pitch, that was it," said Franklin, who's first offering of the night -- a sinker down and in to Ramon Martinez -- was hit for a game-ending homer.

Franklin, the final Reds pitcher available from the bullpen, threw 41 pitches during Monday's game and was an emergency option for Narron.

"I've never had to do it before. I wasn't a reliever until this year," Franklin said. "I've never thrown that many pitches and tried to come back the next day. But you know what? If I had three days off, I would have still tried to throw that same pitch."

Shortly after the almost five-hour game ended just after 3 a.m. ET, Narron placed a phone call to Krivsky. The GM was in Chattanooga and had an early morning flight Wednesday.

"You think I was going to bear that misery by myself?" Narron said laughing.

Majewski close? Extra innings may have taxed the Reds' bullpen, but the innings crunch could ease as early as Friday when rosters expand.

One of the reinforcements could be Gary Majewski, who appeared likely to be activated from the disabled list after a final test in his rehab assignment at Louisville. Majewski, on the DL since Aug. 7 with a tired shoulder, threw a scoreless inning Wednesday. It was the first time he worked in back-to-back games.

Over four games with Louisville, Majewski allowed two unearned runs.

Guardado update: Injured Reds closer Eddie Guardado (left forearm tendinitis) planned to try throwing again on Friday in San Diego. Guardado last played catch on Saturday and felt discomfort. He still had optimism that a successful throwing session could lead to his being activated Monday when eligible to come off the DL.

It wasn't clear yet if Guardado would play catch again or throw off a mound, but the reliever's preference was known.

"It depends on how things go. I'm anxious," Guardado said. "They'll probably hold me back, but I might say, 'Put me on the hill and let's see what I can do.' It's getting late."

Coming up: After a much-needed day off Thursday, the Reds will face the Padres at PETCO Park on Friday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 3.52 ERA) will pitch for Cincinnati against San Diego's Clay Hensley (8-10, 3.94 ERA).

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.