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.

Video: Corey Dickerson breaks scoreless tie with walk-off home run

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Neither the Pirates nor the Tigers could manage any offense during Thursday afternoon’s game at PNC Park. That is, until outfielder Corey Dickerson launched a walk-off solo home run off of Alex Wilson with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Dickerson, 28, has been solid for the Pirates for the first month of the season. He’s batting .314/.348/.500 with a pair of home runs, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored in 92 plate appearances. The Pirates acquired him from the Rays in late February in exchange for journeyman pitcher Daniel Hudson and Single-A infielder Tristan Gray.