Josh Johnson on Ozzie Guillen Led Marlins: “He’s having fun and everybody is out there having fun. It’s a little bit different.”

March 13, 2012 – 7:45 am by Steven Cuce

Josh Johnson has, very quietly, been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball over the past half decade. Johnson was a 12-game winner in 2006,  a 15-game winner in 2009, and the Marlins righthander even lead the league in ERA with a 2.30 in 2010. After starting off well last year in 2011, a shoulder injury derailed the young ace’s season. He made just nine starts overall for last year’s disappointing Marlins squad.

The Miami Marlins broke the bank this winter, going all in by offering back loaded contracts to Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. Much of the Marlins pitching depth rest on the shoulders of Johnson. As Johnson goes, so does the Marlins staff. Without him, Miami might be in for yet another, long summer near or at the bottom of the pack in the competitive NL East.

Johnson believes his team is a legitimate contender for years to come in their new ballpark.

Josh Johnson joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with The Wheelhouse with John Lund to discuss how the Florida Marlins are or are not different under Ozzie Guillen,  Guillen not being involved with the handling of starting pitchers, the  Marlins having a good shot at making the MLB playoffs this season, changing up his workout this off-season, and the belief that the Marlins are going to compete year in and year out now in their new more fan-friendly stadium.

How is it different with all the changes that have been made?

“Ozzie [Guillen]. That’s pretty much a one word answer right there. Ozzie [Guillen] has been incredible. He came in. He made it fun. He made everything – it is the most relaxed bunch of guys I have ever been around. We’re out there working harder during the mornings and we are having fun and then as soon as the game starts it’s business, but he’s in the dugout and he’s cracking jokes. He’s having fun and everybody is out there having fun. It’s a little bit different.”

What’s it like as a pitcher to get involved with Ozzie Guillen?

“Not too much. He’s like you know what get healthy and stay healthy. Do whatever you gotta do to go out there every five days and we’ll be good. Go out there and play hard and give everything that you got and Mark Buehrle told me the same thing. You go out there and if you play the game the right way he will respect you and you’ll have no problems with him. That’s the only goal for us is to go out there and play the game the right way and play hard and try to win every game.”

With all the changes what is the expectation level for your team?

“Make the playoffs. It’s a whole new ball game once you make the playoffs. It’s a whole new season and we just want to get there. We’re a lot closer than we have been in the past. Every year you come in and say you want to make the playoffs, but this year it’s an absolute realistic shot to do it. We have the talent. We have the depth. We have a lot of good pieces here and all the guys that came over are good people. They love to play the game and have fun playing the game, so it made that transition a lot easier.”

What did you change up this off-season?

“I actually started working out with Aaron Rowand, one of my teammates, Mike Dunn and we started doing physical therapy. They had been doing it for 4-5-6 years and went to this guy a physical therapist, Tim Soder. I told him I am going to stick with you and whatever you have me do I am going to do every day. We were getting up at 4 a.m. and I was done working out at 7:30, so I could come home and take my kids to school and all that good stuff. It was a lot of manuel resistance. Everything was structured around the shoulder, around making sure your scapula is in the right position. That was my big problem last year. My scapula got out of whack and my rotator cuff was taking all the throwing I was doing.”

Do you believe the Marlins are now a team that year in and year out can compete and keep players?

“Absolutely. The stadium makes a huge difference. Now we are not sharing like you guys are sharing it with the football team. Now you are not getting any revenue out of it. It changed it big time. Now we are going to have fans in the stands every night. In Florida it rains every single day. I honestly wouldn’t want to bring my kids out there, my family out there and get rained on every single night either. I definitely sympathize with the fans, but just having the fans out there and the place be rocking every single night hopefully and that’s huge. A lot of us look forward to going on the road and just playing in front of a lot of people. We miss that and hopefully this year it will change and we’ll be able to have that at home.”

Listen to Josh Johnson on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco here

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