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The Globe and Mail

Jays’ Josh Johnson misses start due to triceps tightness

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Josh Johnson reacts as he works against New York Yankees during first inning AL baseball action in Toronto on Sunday April 21, 2013.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson bowed out of Friday night's start as a precautionary measure, after soreness in his arm just above the elbow persisted from his previous outing.

Left-hander Aaron Laffey, picked up on waivers from the Mets this week, was scheduled to replace him against the Yankees on Friday night.

Johnson expects to make his next start in Toronto. An MRI was taken on Friday afternoon though results weren't available immediately.

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"I'm thinking about being smart about this," Johnson said. "I just don't want it to linger on.

Aged 29 and in the last year of a contract, Johnson is 0-1 in four starts with a 6.86 earned run average. The ERA is skewed by an outing in miserable weather in Detroit on April 11, when he allowed six runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Triceps tendinitis indicates elbow pain. Surgery is not normally required. Standard treatment consists of rest combined with anti-inflammatory medications, icing and physical therapy.

"I've asked questions, just making sure I know about it," he said.

Manager John Gibbons said the decision to hold him out was made late Thursday night. Johnson played catch on Thursday afternoon before Toronto's 5-3 loss to the Yankees, and the arm didn't feel right after. He described it as a poking sensation.

He's endured shoulder and elbow injuries during his eight-year career.

Johnson's shoulder swelled in 2011 when he made only nine starts. Rather than undergo surgery, he opted for a strenuous off-season workout program and returned last season to make 31 starts, going 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA for the last-place Miami Marlins in the NL East.

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"The shoulder feels great," he said Thursday.

Johnson had "Tommy John" ligament transplant surgery in his elbow in August of 2007, returning in 2008 to make 14 starts. In 2009 he went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA for Miami in a career-high 209 innings. The following season, he missed the first three weeks with a strained back before recording an 11-6 record and 2.30 ERA.

After an impressive spring training, the Blue Jays expected Johnson to have a strong season. Johnson felt good, and confidently established a goal of pitching 200 innings for the second time in his career.

However, he's allowed 28 hits and nine walks in 19-2/3 innings, and has gone beyond six innings just once. The Yankees got eight hits, three walks and four runs off him in 5-1/3 innings last Sunday, in a game the Jays won, 8-4.

While his average fastball velocity is up a tick from last season, and he's throwing a greater percentage of fastballs (62 per cent versus 55.1 in Miami) his ratio of strikeouts to walks has fallen from 3.88 in his most dominant year, 2010, to 2.11 this season.

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