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Johnson optimistic about another comeback

Johnson optimistic about another comeback play video for Johnson optimistic about another comeback

SAN DIEGO -- Sitting in the Padres' dugout before Monday's game against the Royals, Josh Johnson just looked like he was itching to play, to pitch again.

Of course, that won't happen this season, as Johnson is just over two weeks removed from his second Tommy John surgery. He had the first in 2007 and the second on April 24 by Dr. James Andrews.

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Still wearing a heavy brace to protect the elbow, Johnson talked with MLB.com about his elbow and the future for the first time.

Johnson was asked what's next for him.

"Hopefully, I can come back," he said. "I've done it before. So why not do it again?"

Johnson, 30, is still disappointed he won't throw a single pitch for the Padres in 2014, especially after he signed a one-year deal worth $8 million in November. The Padres hold a $4 million option for 2015 since he made seven or fewer starts.

The future is the great unknown for Johnson right now.

"I don't know what will happen, but you've got to be positive about it," Johnson said. "I've been trying to stay in a good mood and have done well with that so far. But as far as coming back, I'm ready to put in the extra work like the last time and put myself in a position where I can pitch without problems."

Johnson appeared to be in just that place early in Spring Training, as he continued to build his stamina and arm strength through his first three starts. He threw 79 pitches March 18 against the Mariners and then woke up the next day with soreness in the back of the elbow -- not in the ligament area.

"It [Spring Training] couldn't have gone any better. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I hit every step, was recovering great between starts, my elbow felt great, my body felt great," Johnson said.

"That's what you look for in Spring Training, just to feel good. I thought I would feel a pop, or heard one. But I never did, that threw me for a loop."

Johnson was diagnosed with a right forearm strain. But eventually, he had pain in the ligament area and at that point, the team decided that he should see Dr. Andrews, who performed Johnson's first Tommy John surgery when he was with the Marlins.

Once he got to see Dr. Andrews, Johnson had a pretty good idea what he was in for.

"I pretty much thought it was going to go in that direction," Johnson said of surgery.

Johnson has remained here with the team and has sat in on bullpen sessions with pitching coach Darren Balsley to observe and offer words of encouragement or advice if asked. It's allowed him to remain with the team and, mentally at least, still attached to the game.

"The only thing I can really do now is try to help these guys out," he said.

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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