Jays right-hander Josh Johnson has some hockey background, and that topic made him an instant hit in his first scrum at spring training Wednesday.
“It’s the first game I think I ever played,” Johnson said as he spoke in front of a throng of cameras and notepads at Blue Jays spring training.
“It was when I was 3 to 5 years old I think. I haven’t skated in years, but I still fool around with a hockey stick when I can.”
Baseball is obviously the main sport in Johnson’s life now, and he’s a key part of the Jays vastly revamped starting rotation for 2013.
That rotation — which now includes Johnson and fellow Miami Marlins teammate Mark Buehrle — made its way in front the cameras in Dunedin as pitchers and catchers officially reported Wednesday for their first full on field workout.
Johnson and Buehrle were pivotal in the Marlins’ rotation a year ago, and when high expectations in Miami faded to disappointment, the duo became part of a trade with Toronto that changed the course of the Jays franchise into a serious post-season contender.
“I’m extremely excited, I can’t put it into words,” said Johnson, who grew up in Minneapolis and played hockey there briefly before his family moved to Oklahoma.
Johnson, like Buehrle, wasn’t expecting a trade out of Miami. Johnson accepted the move much more readily than Buehrle, who criticized Marlins management and said the franchise lied to him and his family when he signed a three-year deal there.
“I let it be known how I felt, and I wasn’t happy with (the move) after what they told me about their team,” Buehrle said. “I felt like we took a leap of faith there, coming there without a no-trade clause, and we felt like we’d be there a long time. I don’t like to talk about it anymore.”