Teams may be backing away from JJ

MIAMI — If Sunday was an audition, Josh Johnson’s performance didn’t win over the critics.

After seeing six walks in five innings by Johnson, scouts and front office personnel are deciding whether to meet Miami’s high trade demands.

Representatives from roughly 15 teams were at Marlins Park on Sunday afternoon, watching the 28-year-old issue a season-high six walks while stiking out four in five innings.

Johnson minimized damage, allowing two runs on two hits. In terms of pure stuff, the 95-pitch outing was not overwhelming.

That could be good or bad news for Marlins fans hopeful Johnson remains with the club after Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline passes.

The good news for Miami fans hoping JJ will stay is, other teams may be backing away from trade talks.

Conversely, if JJ stays, more is expected from the two-time All-Star.

The Marlins are listening to teams interested in their ace. But Miami is seeking a large haul — at least four players, including a top prospect or two. If such a package isn’t presented, look for JJ to remain with the team that Drafted him in 2002.

The Rangers were lukewarm before Sunday, and they saw nothing to change their mind. The Blue Jays are in the mix, as are the Red Sox.

Now, the Braves are in the conversation, but would the Marlins deal with their division rival? It would depend on what’s offered in return.

Barring being blown out of the water, the Marlins probably won’t find a match with Atlanta.

Some will say, Miami traded Dan Uggla to the Braves two years ago. But circumstances were different, because Uggla turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Marlins then. He was entering his final season of arbitration, and the club wanted to get something, rather then watch Uggla test the market.

JJ is signed through 2013 as he will make $13.75 million next year.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, obviously, knows Johnson well. He managed him with the Marlins.

While the right-hander had less-than-spectacular stuff on Sunday, on July 23, Johnson beat the Braves. On that night, his stuff was electric, nine strikeouts with one hit allowed in six scoreless innings.

Johnson left that game due to a small cut at the nail of his right middle finger.

Perhaps the finger was an issue on Sunday against the Padres.

Or it may be a case of Johnson still searching for consistency. In 2011, he missed a majority of the season because of right shoulder inflammation.

While he’s been healthy this year, he hasn’t dominated like in the past. Before being hurt in ’11, Johnson was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA. And in 2010, he won the NL ERA crown with a 2.30, going 11-6 in 28 starts.

JJ is next scheduled to start on Friday at Washington.

Until the trade deadline passes on Tuesday, there will likely remain speculation that Johnson’s outing on Sunday was his last one with the Marlins.

– Joe Frisaro  

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