SAN FRANCISCO -- Marlins ace Josh Johnson played catch Wednesday for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. So how did it go?
"It felt weird," Johnson said. "I hadn't taken that many days off since November. It felt like the first day of the offseason playing catch. I didn't know where the ball was going to go. It felt like the ball was going to go into the stands half the time. But it was a good day to get that feeling back, have the ball in my hand, all that."
Johnson said he played catch for about five to six minutes from a distance of 60 feet. Barring any discomfort in his shoulder when he wakes up Thursday morning, he said he expects to proceed his rehab by playing catch again (this time from 75 feet). He'll follow it up with long toss. If all goes well, he could throw just one bullpen session before getting back in rotation as soon as June 1st at Arizona.
But it's more likely the Marlins will take a cautious approach and probably give Johnson a few more days off, especially since they'll have a day off at the conclusion of their nine-game road trip.
"I don't think I'll need that much time [to get ready]," Johnson said. "But me and [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire] talked about making sure when I throw long toss, that I get good extension. I wasn't getting that earlier in my last four or five starts. I need to have that. If I'm not getting that, then I'm not going to go out to the mound. So it depends on that."
All Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said he cares about is that when Johnson does return, he doesn't have any other setbacks. "The main reason we shut him down was because we wanted him to be fine for the rest of the season. So now that he's down, we want to make sure he's 100 percent when he comes out," Rodriguez said. "We're not only looking for him to be painless, but strong too."
As for who will fill-in for Johnson Saturday, Rodriguez said Wednesday he still doesn't have an answer.
STANTON 'BECOMING A SHOWMAN:" There was a time not too long ago when fans across the country showed up early to watch Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and other sluggers put on power displays during batting practice.
Mike Stanton hasn't develop such a following yet, but he's building a big fan base at AT&T Park. Before Tuesday's game, he received a loud ovation from several thousand Giants fans who saw him drill a ball just to the left of the 501-foot sign in left-center field. According to Josh Johnson, the ball bounced off the concourse and nearly hit the giant-sized glove and Coke bottle.
"Amazing," Johnson said of the blast. "I guess somebody talked to a fan who has come to all the BPs that said it's the furthest ball he's ever seen hit here."
Rodriguez said he thinks the cheers Stanton received might be the loudest he's ever gotten on the road. "He's having fun," Rodriguez said. "He's starting to become a show man, enjoying all the attention. But at the same time, he's staying within himself."
Rodriguez said he saw Stanton's blast during BP, but missed his 11th home run of the season in the fourth inning Tuesday -- a 400-foot straight away blast to center field -- because he went into go get his jacket.
"I was upset I missed that home run," Rodriguez said. "As a fan you don't want to miss it. The way he's been handling himself is amazing. Although he's only 21, he's very mature."
Stanton, who is from the Los Angeles area, said his father and a few friends who are students at nearby Cal-Berkley came to watch him play Tuesday. He said they weren't necessarily impressed by home run.
"They all saw the Dodgers and San Diego series last year," Stanton said. "It's not a big deal."
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria joked Tuesday that if Stanton were able to hit the ball inside the giant-sized glove he would consider giving him his red Ferrari. Told what Loria said, Stanton replied: "That's a shot. Who knows on a good day, maybe. I'll see what I got today. Maybe I can unload one or two."
Stanton unloaded a few crowd pleases Wednesday, but didn't hit the glove.