Orioles closer Jim Johnson fans two in “B” game

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The Orioles can remove right-handed reliever Jim Johnson from their list of injured players.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN.com, the 28-year-old closer struck out two batters Saturday during a one-inning appearance in a “B” game.

It was his first live action of the spring.

Johnson is about a week behind the other pitchers in O’ss camp due to back tightness that he began experiencing in late February. But relievers only require a handful of exhibition appearances in order to get sufficiently geared up for the start of the regular season and there’s still plenty of time for him to get his work in between now and Opening Day.

Johnson posted a 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 58/21 K/BB ratio in 91 innings of relief last season.

Nick Markakis leads all NL outfielders in All-Star voting

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I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.

Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.

The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.

Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.

Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.

The rest of the voting: