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Johnson pleased with first Padres spring start

Johnson pleased with first Padres spring start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Josh Johnson paused Monday when he was asked how long it had been since he felt as good, as comfortable, standing on a Major League mound.

"Probably last Spring Training," he said. "Even though I threw the ball well last Spring Training, I didn't feel right. I didn't have my normal delivery. Everything went haywire after that."

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Johnson is hopeful that won't be the case this year with the Padres, as he was encouraged by his two-inning stint against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. The Padres beat San Francisco, 7-2.

Johnson tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and showed a dandy changeup in his 22-pitch outing that included 15 strikes.

"Overall, I feel a lot closer to where I was in 2009, 2010, '11," said Johnson, who led the National League in ERA (2.30) in 2010 while a member of the Marlins.

"I thought his delivery looked good, he repeated his delivery and it really looked as though his mechanics are in order," said manager Bud Black. "Just the way he's been throwing, I expected some good things."

Johnson estimated that he threw five changeups and three sliders Monday. The changeup is a pitch he's using more. He's had a good tutor in Padres camp in former San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, the team's first-year upper-level pitching coordinator.

"That's probably the best my changeup has been since I was in the Minor Leagues," he said. "I've talked to [Hoffman] about his thinking with it and what he does; maybe something can click."

From the sound of it, something already has with Johnson, who has worked closely with pitching coach Darren Balsley since before camp started on creating a more downhill plane with great extension in his delivery.

It's a far cry from where he was last season with the Blue Jays, when he had a 6.20 ERA and needed surgery after the season to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

"Everything is starting to feel comfortable again," Johnson said. "I'm not fighting myself, not fighting my body. I'm just trying to get out there and be able to repeat my delivery. It's a lot easier. I have command of my fastball and know where it's going."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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