Rockies add Johnson for Game 2, option Reynolds

April 14, 2011 | 2:09 pm | 13  

The Colorado Rockies have purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Alan Johnson for the second game of Thursday’s double-header and optioned Greg Reynolds to Triple-A Colorado Springs. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rockies transferred pitcher Aaron Cook to the 60-day disabled list.

Reynolds picked up his first major-league win since 2008 in the first game of the double-header with five solid innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits and two walks. In his two starts this season, both on the current road trip, Reynolds has a 3.27 ERA.

Johnson, an undrafted free agent originally signed by the Rockies in 2005, was held back from his scheduled start Wednesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs and joined the Rockies in New York in case the Rockies needed another arm. The Rockies used five relievers in the first game of their double-header, and Johnson was activated to provide insurance for Game 2. If he’s not needed, Johnson will make a spot start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

In his lone start this season, Johnson, 27, allowed two hits and two unearned runs in five innings April 8 with one walk and three strikeouts and threw 42 of 68 pitches for strikes. He didn’t figure in the decision, but the Sky Sox beat Tucson 5-3.

Cook is not expected back until late May or early June. He will be eligible to come off the disabled list on May 21.

Franklin Morales remains with the team. He injured his ankle on a play at first base in the sixth inning of the Rockies’ 6-5 win in the first game of the double-header. Jason Giambi fielded a groundball from Willie Harris and flipped to Morales, who was covering first. Harris stepped on Morales’ ankle and may never have touched the bag, but was called safe by first-base umpire Cory Blaser. Harris was later thrown out trying to steal second, but Morales limped off the field and was replaced by Matt Belisle.


  • Mike Raysfan | April 14, 2011 | 2:21 pm

    I certainly understand Cook going to the 60 day DL. It won’t surprise me if we don’t see him until the All Star break. Johnson being called up surprised me.

  • BH | April 14, 2011 | 2:22 pm

    Way to go AJ!

  • Cisco Kid | April 14, 2011 | 3:17 pm

    I’m surprised Daley didn’t get called up at least until Sunday when another starter will be needed. Daley has more experience coming in relief than Johnson does who has been a starter in the minors.

  • GARY | April 14, 2011 | 4:04 pm

    With all the other names that had been mentioned,I can only ask:WHO THE HELL IS ALAN JOHNSON ?Has he been on your guys radar?And he gets a roster spot-I’m dazed and confused[some what common condition for me].

  • Julian | April 14, 2011 | 5:02 pm

    I’m surprised that it’s Johnson over Nicasio.

  • Marc | April 14, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    This answer here is probably pretty obvious but – this means that Reynolds is back down in the Springs until the next time there is a need for him?

  • Jasper | April 14, 2011 | 7:25 pm

    I believe Johnson led the Springs in wins last season where he was a starter. I expected it to be Mortenson but he has an agenda to fulfill at the Springs, adjustments to his delivery, that apparently made Johnson a preferable choice. Nicasio has barely pitched above class A, two starts at Tulsa, so is raw to bring up at this time.

  • Agbayani | April 14, 2011 | 7:40 pm

    Really surprising choice. Johnson’s pretty much been viewed as a non-prospect ever since I can remember. I think he’s one of those righthanders with pretty average stuff. He had a really nice year in Modesto in 2007, but then seemed to stall in AA. But there’s some modestly encouraging signs there, mostly a jump in his strikeout rate last year from about 4.7 per 9 IP to 6.4 per 9 IP. (I’m guessing he either learned a new pitch, or perfected a secondary pitch and started to get more hitters to swing and miss.) Mortensen seemed the obvious choice since Maine either isn’t ready or just doesn’t have it anymore, but when you dig deeper it’s pretty apparent that there isn’t much to differentiate Mortensen and Johnson. Based on their minor league histories, they both project to something like one win below replacement over a season. So as an emergency starter, I’m perfectly fine with choosing Alan Johnson. And as a fan of the underdog, I’ll really be pulling for him to make a strong start (and one is probably all he’ll get) and to get a bigger chance with the Rockies or some other club down the line. Good luck, young man!

  • Agbayani | April 14, 2011 | 7:52 pm

    Or with Ubaldo coming back, is Johnson even going to make a start, or is he just the emergency mop-up guy, Steve?

  • Steve Foster | April 14, 2011 | 8:01 pm

    Johnson will start Sunday because the Rockies don’t have anyone to start that game. Chacin on Friday, Hammel on Saturday, Johnson on Sunday, Jimenez on Monday and then Esmil Rogers or Jorge De La Rosa on Tuesday. Rogers would have to come back on three-days rest to start Sunday.

    As for who Johnson is, he’s not one of the Rockies’ top prospects, but he’s a workhorse who has been grinding his way through the minor leagues for more than six seasons now. Nicasio and Mortensen were options, but Nicasio is still getting his feet wet at Double-A and Mortensen hasn’t put up good numbers so far. Either one is capable of having a great game, but both are also capable of going just 1 1/3 innings at this point. Johnson is more along the lines of some spot starers in the past like Mark Brownson and Mike Saipe. A month from now, he probably wouldn’t be getting the start, but right now he makes as much sense to me as anyone, so I think it’s great to reward him.

  • Michael | April 15, 2011 | 1:46 am

    Johnson seems like a great guy to root for but he’s a terrible choice to start. His ERA has been climbing for the last few years and has been over 5.00 each of the last two seasons and closer to 6.00 last season. The Cubs will paste him. It’s giving away a game. Why not go with Billy Buckner, a more experienced, higher ceiling guy for a spot start?

  • Steve Foster | April 15, 2011 | 8:27 am

    It’s not giving away a game at all. Johnson’s not going to be a mainstay in the starting rotation, but he’s perfectly fine for one start. The short answer on Buckner is that Johnson has simply pitched better, both this year and last year. With the amount of work the bullpen has put in with the double-header Thursday, the Rockies need a steady start on Sunday and Johnson is the best available candidate to give the Rockies at least five innings. Johnson’s numbers haven’t been great over the past few years, but he’s been doing it at Colorado Springs and while his ERA — an unpredictable stat in that ballpark — has gone up, his ancillary stats, walks/9, strikeouts/9, home runs allowed, have all improved. That he has been pitching for three years at the Springs is also helpful in that he’s not a newbie when it comes to pitching at altitude as all the other options to make that start would be. As far as this season is concerned, Johnson has been the Sky Sox’s best starter. It would be great if the Rockies could use an experienced major leaguer for that start or if someone like Christian Friedrich was almost ready for majors and could be given a look, but those options are not available to the Rockies on Sunday. Nicasio isn’t ready, but a month from now he could be and would probably be getting this start then. But given the options available this early in the season, Johnson is at least as good as any others for that one game.

  • Agbayani | April 15, 2011 | 10:51 am

    Here’s why I pull for guys like Johnson. Out of the millions of kids worldwide who start playing baseball trying to be a pitcher, he has established himself as one of the top 500 or so — that’s about 350 big league pitchers plus AAA, Japan, and other high level leagues. So close, and yet so very, very far. If he can just get that curve to break a little more, or that sinker to dive an inch more, he may actually still make it. But it’s a longshot. So good luck to you, Alan Johnson, and here’s hoping that this isn’t your only chance to be on the big stage.