PHOENIX — It’s easy to see why the White Sox have such confidence in Erik Johnson as he continues to perform well this spring.
Tabbed for a spot in the starting rotation, Johnson didn’t have his best stuff but still struck out five batters and allowed only a run in four innings in a 2-2 tie against the Oakland A’s on Sunday afternoon. Johnson did yield a few hard-hit balls but was very effective against a strong A’s lineup as the right-hander gave up four hits and walked one.
“Worked ahead a little more this time around. I got double plays, which helped me out, kept my pitch count down,” Johnson said. “Overall it was a good outing. ... My curve ball wasn’t there toward the late innings. So I moved over to my slider, and that was a good pitch for me.”
Johnson made a strong pitch for the 2014 rotation when he pitched well during a late-season promotion last year. In five starts Johnson went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. Those numbers came on the heels of a 12-1 showing in the minors.
This spring Johnson has a 2.57 ERA over seven innings.
“With what he did last year and so far what you see, you like what you see,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He does have a strong case to be able to hold that spot down.”