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Johnson all set for fresh start with Blue Jays

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Associated Press
2/13/2013 5:57:52 PM
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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- For Josh Johnson, the setting this season is different -- it's a lot colder in Toronto -- but the expectations remain as high as they ever were in Miami.

"My wife and I scouted out Toronto after Christmas," the right-hander said Wednesday. "It was a lot of fun. Heidi liked it and that's a big part, making sure the other half is happy."

Johnson was part of the 12-player blockbuster trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays in mid-November.

The only other time Johnson visited Toronto was in June 2009 when he pitched a complete game, the Marlins winning 11-3.

"I know it's cold and it snows a lot," he said. "I like it. I was born in Minneapolis."

Johnson and his wife were in Toronto during last week's snowstorm.

"It was fun. My wife didn't like it much but I loved it," he said.

Johnson sat atop the 2012 starting rotation of the Marlins, a team laden with high-priced talent and expected to at least challenge for the NL East title and perhaps ride it to the World Series.

But the team underachieved in their new ballpark and finished in last place. The Marlins fired manager Ozzie Guillen and traded away $163.75 million in guaranteed contracts -- two of which belonged to Johnson and fellow Blue Jays front-line starter Mark Buehrle.

"I had mixed feelings about leaving," Johnson said. "I definitely wanted to win, wanted to go somewhere where I could win a World Series, but I also thought (the Marlins) were awesome. I wanted to stay there and win there this year."

Then came the trade, followed a month later by the deal that sent 2012 Cy Young Award-winning knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets to the Blue Jays.

Now Johnson sits third in the rotation, behind Dickey and Brandon Morrow and ahead of Buehrle and Ricky Romero.

I'm extremely excited," he said as Toronto's pitchers and catchers went through their first official spring workout.

Johnson said it doesn't matter where he's listed in the rotation.

"Once the season starts it's going to get all jumbled up and it doesn't matter where you're at. All I want to do it be out there every fifth day and start," he said. "Dickey at the top, he's almost painful to watch."

NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Dustin McGowan, who has undergone three surgeries in the past five seasons, will be "slowed down" this week, manager John Gibbons said. Gibbons said McGowan's "shoulder was barking" after playing catch on Tuesday. McGowan, 12-10 in 27 starts in 2007, was operated on in 2008, 2010 and 2012. He missed all of 2009-10 and last season.

Josh Johnson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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