Rather than look at this time as an audition for a spot in next year's rotation with the Chicago White Sox, Erik Johnson is using his current opportunity as a means to feel more comfortable with his major league surroundings.
While doing so, the right-hander tries to help the White Sox bounce back from one of their worst defeats of a disappointing season Wednesday night against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
Though Johnson (1-0, 3.27 ERA) will likely be considered for a spot in Chicago's 2016 rotation, that's not his top priority for the time being. Considered one of the club's top overall prospects and the International League's most valuable pitcher after going 11-8 with a 2.37 ERA for Triple-A Charlotte, Johnson has given all he's had over his two starts since being called up Sept. 1.
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Since 2013, Johnson is 5-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 12 starts for Chicago.
"Just to build off each inning, getting out of there and just grinding one out and throwing up zeros on the board is the most important thing," Johnson said after he overcame five walks and four hits to allow one run and strike out six over 113 pitches and five innings of Friday's 6-2 loss to Minnesota.
He'll try to help Chicago (68-75) regroup after Jeff Samardzija yielded 10 of the club's season high for runs allowed in three-plus innings of Tuesday's 17-6 loss to the A's.
Billy Butler, Mark Canha and Eric Sogard each had three hits and Josh Reddick drove in four runs as Oakland (62-83) snapped a six-game losing streak to the White Sox by scoring its most runs since an 18-3 rout of Minnesota on Sept. 11, 2013.
"With how long this year's been for us, I feel like we've been on the other end of a lot of those," ex-Chicago catcher Josh Phegley said. "It's definitely nice to have a win. Guys were swinging the bats real well, and we were having a lot of fun out there."
Reddick has homered in each of the first two of this four-game set, and is 8 for 17 with seven runs scored in the last four contests.
Now that a rib injury has ended Jesse Chavez's season, Cody Martin (2-4, 6.57) was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to make his second career start for the A's.
"We've been hard hit all the way around this year (with injuries)," manager Bob Melvin said. "Certainly the starting rotation has been the hardest hit here recently. Some years you have more injuries than others."
Acquired in a July 2 trade with Atlanta, Martin made 21 relief appearances for the Braves before he allowed five runs and six hits over three-plus innings of a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 1. The right-hander last took any mound Sept. 7 for the Sounds.
Martin won't have to face outfielder Trayce Thompson, who will miss a second straight contest with a hyperextended left elbow. The rookie is batting .377 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 26 games since debuting Aug. 4.