PHILADELPHIA -- Health isn't the issue with Marlins ace Josh Johnson. Getting sharp is.
It was evident on Wednesday night in Miami's 7-1 loss to the Phillies. Johnson gave up six runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The hits allowed were a career high, and a sign that the two-time All-Star is lacking the touch to put hitters away.
"I don't think it's as bad as it looks," pitching coach Randy St. Claire said on Thursday.
Johnson is working on some mechanical adjustments with his hands. Otherwise, the right-hander continues to go through his regular routine, working on regaining his old form.
Johnson missed most of 2011 with shoulder inflammation, and he's shaking off the rust.
His velocity is in the 92-93 mph range, with an occasional 94, down from the 95-97 of a year ago.
The feeling around the team is Johnson's velocity will increase as he keeps building up arm strength.
In the meantime, Johnson is laboring to get back to his elite status. In his two starts, he's allowed 21 hits in 9 2/3 innings. It's a dramatic reversal from last April, when he gave up 18 hits in 41 innings and he was 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA.
He's also lost two straight starts for the first time since June 18-29, 2007, when he dropped three in a row.
Johnson on Wednesday also was hurt by some sloppy plays in a five-run third inning. There was an error and some throws to wrong bases.
"We made some plays that shouldn't have been made," bench coach Joey Cora said. "We made some throws that shouldn't have been made, but [Johnson] wasn't sharp, either. They played better than we did. It's that simple."
Stanton, Morrison likely to get day off soon
PHILADELPHIA -- The Marlins are thinking big picture when it comes to steady playing time for Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton.
The two are playing through nagging knee issues. Morrison had surgery on his right knee in December, and Stanton has dealt with pain in his left knee.
Both were in the lineup on Thursday night in the series finale against the Phillies, but they may sit a game out over the weekend.
On Friday night, Morrison likely will get a day off in the series opener with the Astros at Marlins Park. Stanton will be asked if he can go on Friday.
"There is a pretty good chance we're going to get home pretty late tonight, so there is a good chance [Morrison] probably won't play [Friday]," bench coach Joey Cora said. "We'll ask Stanton if he's available. Until they're 100 percent, it's going to be tough to get them out there five, six, seven times in a row."
In Spring Training, Stanton appeared in eight Grapefruit League games, and he had 21 at-bats. Morrison, meanwhile, had 15 at-bats in five games.
"We've got to take care of them because we're thinking about October," Cora said. "We're not thinking April. In the meantime, those two guys didn't have Spring Training. We've got to get them at-bats to get them in baseball shape."
"It's a balancing act between getting them out there playing and getting them out there healthy as much as we can. We're thinking of the whole year. We're not only thinking April. So we're going to take care of them."
Infante not thinking homers, but displaying pop
PHILADELPHIA -- Nine players entered Thursday with a league high three home runs. Omar Infante was one of them.
The Marlins' second baseman is an unlikely power source, but if he gets an inside pitch he can handle, he's more than capable of driving it out of the park. Infante belted a home run on Monday in Philadelphia, and on Wednesday, he nearly missed another on a ball that went off the wall for a double.
If not for a stiff wind, Infante's drive off Roy Halladay in the second inning likely would have found the seats in left.
"I have power, but I don't think of home runs," the Miami second baseman said. "I'm a line-drive hitter."
Home runs have not been a big part of Infante's game. He had seven of them in 2011, his first season with the Marlins.
The most he's hit in a season is 16, while with the Tigers in 2004. His next high is nine, in 2005.
"I changed my approach," Infante said. "I'm staying more back on the ball. I'm working on my swing with [hitting coach] Eduardo Perez. I'm working on hitting a lot of line drives. I think that's been effective for me."
Perez credits Infante for the adjustments that have led to him hitting .333 in the early part of the year. The main tweak in his stance is to have Infante stand tall, and not collapse his right hip during his stride.
He's worked a lot of soft toss on pitches up in the zone.
"I just want him to stay tall," Perez said. "He's narrowed his stance a little bit. I still want him to think big part of the ballpark. He's always been a pull-type hitter.
"What I'm looking for are line drives past the infield. If he elevates, he elevates. Right now, it's been more on quality at-bats, and making sure the pitcher keeps the ball up and taking a good rip at it."
As for his increased power numbers, Perez points out that six of Infante's seven home runs last year came in 57 games after the All-Star break.