Marlins still hoping Josh Johnson ready by late September

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From Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald comes word that the Marlins are still optimistic that ace right-hander Josh Johnson will be able to return for one or two starts in late September.

Johnson has been on the disabled list since the middle of May with inflammation in his shoulder.

Tests have ruled out structural damage and a visit to Dr. James Andrews in late June went smoothly, so the Marlins are presuming that the 27-year-old starter will continue to make steady progress.

Johnson has been throwing off flat ground for the past couple of weeks in south Florida and could step back atop a mound during the first or second week of September. If he then performs well in simulated games, a return timetable can be mapped out.

Johnson had a brilliant 1.64 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 56/20 K/BB ratio through 60 1/3 innings before his right shoulder began acting up in May. When healthy, he’s one of the most dominant starters in the sport.