Johnson perfect in three-plus as Blue Jays beat Braves

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Associated Press
3/8/2013 5:41:57 PM
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Even though the Toronto Blue Jays have plenty of new faces after a winter makeover, newcomer Josh Johnson said the team's already one big happy family.

Johnson struck out five in 3 2/3 hitless innings to lead the Blue Jays past a split-squad of Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Friday.

Kris Medlen started for Atlanta and allowed three earned runs, including a homer to Anthony Gose. He struck out three and allowed five hits in four innings, his longest outing so far.

Johnson, who went 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA for the Miami Marlins last season, was acquired over the winter and lowered his spring ERA to 1.17. He struck out four of the last five batters he faced. He said he and the rest of the new Jays have meshed well.

"We are all getting used to each other," Johnson said. "I'm feeling good about it and so is everyone else. The difference between here and last season (in Miami) is tremendous. This was like a family as soon as we started."

Johnson has been working on a changeup this spring and plans to add it to his repertoire once the season opens when he will join newcomers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle in the starting rotation to go along with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.

"Right now I am just trying to fit in and keep the ball down," Johnson said. "Some of my pitches were all over the place last year. I am feeling good right now."

Toronto manager John Gibbons said he has no problems with Johnson, or anyone else on his staff, for that matter.

"Josh has been fantastic," Gibbons said. "He is showing stuff I never saw until this year. He has better command than I ever saw before."

Medlin went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA mostly in relief for the Braves last season.

"I was getting ahead of hitters, but I was getting the ball too far over the plate," Medlen said. "I was ahead, but I couldn't put them away. I threw strikes, but they were strikes that were too good."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed with Medlen's assessment.

"He was around the plate and that's what matters right now," Gonzalez said. "He's fine. I'm not worried about a spring training game."

Gose was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to improve his spring average to .375. Rajai Davis had two hits and three RBIs for the Blue Jays, who led 5-1 after the fifth inning.

The Braves had only two hits, both singles. One came from newly acquired B.J. Upton who raised his spring average to .323.

Notes: The homer by Gose gave the Blue Jays their 19th homer of the spring, highest in the Grapefruit League. ... Ricky Romero will start on Saturday at Dunedin against the Tigers' Doug Fister. . Gibbons raved about Gose, who is batting .375 this spring and stole 49 bases between stints in Triple A Las Vegas and Toronto last year. "His time is coming," Gibbons said. "He might not be here at the start, but he's not just a speed runner. He has a lot of pop in that bat." .... Mike Minor will make his first start of the spring in Tampa against the New York Yankees. New York will start Jose Ramirez and Mariano Rivera is set to make his spring debut.

Josh Johnson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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