MINNEAPOLIS -- Erik Johnson, who was being counted on for right-handed balance amid the White Sox left-handed dominant starting five at the season's outset, made his 11th start Sunday since being reassigned to Triple-A Charlotte and suffered the loss despite working seven innings against Toledo.
Johnson has slightly improved in his last two trips to the mound, lasting 13 2/3 innings and allowing eight runs on 13 hits with four walks. But even though the 24-year-old has issued 33 walks and given up 67 hits in 60 2/3 innings for the Knights and would not be a replacement candidate for the struggling Andre Rienzo, the White Sox certainly have not given up on one of their top prospects coming into the 2014 campaign.
"I'll point to Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Those guys didn't succeed right off the bat," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Not everybody grabs the brass ring the first time around the merry go round, and the rest is history. I remember when Jon Garland was here at 19 and everybody expected a lot more from him because he was a highly touted No. 1 guy.
"He wasn't able to give what everyone expected at 19. Sometimes you have to take lumps and hits to continue to evolve into the guy you are going to be, a solid Major Leaguer."
While Cooper hasn't seen Johnson since he left, he talked about the hurler losing confidence and losing the zone a little bit more as ongoing issues.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.