Marlins ace Josh Johnson still hoping to pitch again this year

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Josh Johnson still hasn’t ruled out pitching again this season despite missing the past three months with a shoulder injury that the Marlins continue to describe as merely inflammation.

General manager Mike Hill told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that Johnson is “hopeful that he’ll start his throwing program this week” with an eye toward coming off the disabled list for some September appearances.

Before that can happen Johnson would have to avoid setbacks while playing long-toss, throw “at least three” bullpen sessions, complete a simulated game, and then make 2-3 rehab starts in the minors.

Considering he hasn’t pitched in nearly three months and had to shut down his last throwing program because of pain in June the odds are stacked against seeing Johnson again before 2012, but the fact that he hasn’t totally ruled out a 2011 return is the first good news on the Marlins ace in quite a while.