Josh Johnson to begin throwing off a mound next week

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The Marlins have made some splashy additions this winter with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, but they likely won’t be contenders if they don’t get bounceback seasons from two their big two stars, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.

Ramirez told the Associated Press earlier this month that his surgically-repaired shoulder is 95-percent healed and that he expects to be ready for spring training.

As for Johnson, he was limited to just nine starts last season due right shoulder discomfort and didn’t make another start after May 16. However, during an appearance on 790 AM in Miami earlier today (via Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post), Johnson said that he feels good and will throw off a mound next week for the first time since late-September.

“I’m feeling really good,” Johnson said. “I’ll throw two this next week and then three every week from there on in. Everything is going according to plan.”

Johnson said he will know the exact days of his bullpen sessions after he talks with pitching coach Randy St Claire later this week, but remains confident that he will be ready for the start of spring training and intends to start the Marlins’ season opener on April 4 against the World Series champion Cardinals.

Johnson, who turns 28 later this month, has a 2.98 ERA over his first seven seasons in the majors. He is owed $13.75 million in each of the next two seasons.

Report: Momentum in talks between Mariners, Jon Jay

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that there is some momentum in talks between the Mariners and free agent outfielder Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, which is adequate. He’s heralded more for his defense and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

The Mariners are losing center fielder Jarrod Dyson to free agency and likely don’t want to rely on Guillermo Heredia next season, hence the interest in Jay. The free agent class for center fielders is otherwise relatively weak.