Josh Johnson’s return pushed back again as move to 60-day DL rules him out until second half

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At this rate the Marlins will announce next week that Josh Johnson won’t be returning until 2015.

Johnson was initially expected to miss just a couple weeks with shoulder inflammation when Florida placed him on the disabled list in mid-May, but manager Edwin Rodriguez admitted Monday that they were no longer expecting Johnson back before July and last night the Marlins transferred him to the 60-day disabled list, ruling out a return before the All-Star break.

Rodriguez explained the move by saying that Johnson has yet to start building back his arm strength and will need multiple bullpen sessions followed by multiple rehab appearances before potentially being ready to rejoin the rotation, but not explained is why his timetable has gone from two weeks to two months (and counting) without the presence of a significant setback.

Was he misdiagnosed at the time on the initial DL stint? Did he suffer a major setback that simply wasn’t explained by the team? And if the answer is neither of those things, then how does one of the best pitchers in baseball go from sitting out a couple weeks with shoulder inflammation to being placed on the 60-day DL?

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.