Catcher Rob Johnson was at his locker in the Mariners’ clubhouse this morning when a reporter approached. Before he could field a question, Johnson blurted out the answer to what he’s been asked most this month.
“My hips feel great,” he said.
End of discussion? Not really.
Johnson remains in the moving-cautiously stage of spring training after having surgery on both hips early this offseason. But this week, he’s expected to catch in back-to-back games (five innings each) in what will be the biggest test of those hips.
Johnson says he’s more than ready.
“I feel like I’m ready to go, honestly,” he said. “They’re still being conservative, but the way I feel right now there’s no doubt in my mind that I can go out and catch nine innings today and nine innings tomorrow.”
And it’s not only behind the plate where Johnson feels great. He’s like a new guy in the batter’s box because of the freedom of movement in his hips.
He lined a single to left field in Monday’s exhibition game against the A’s. Just a single, someone might say, but this one was significant because (A) it was his first hit this month and (B) because he was able to fire the hips and turn on the ball. He wasn’t able to do that last year.
Here are today’s lineups on a cooler, cloudy day after overnight rain:
Ichiro Suzuki, right field
Chone Figgins, second base
Casey Kotchman, first base
Ken Griffey Jr., DH
Jose Lopez, third base
Eric Byrnes, left field
Frankllin Gutierrez, center field
Adam Moore, catcher
Matt Tuiasosopo, shortstop
Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, starting pitcher
Eric Aybar, DH
Maicer Izturis, shortstop
Kendry Morales, first base
Juan Rivera, right field
Howie Kendrick, second base
Brandon Wood, third base
Jeff Mathis, catcher
Rob Quinlan, left field
Terry Evans, center field
Right-hander Tommy Mendoza, starting pitcher