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Josh Johnson Injured; Matt Wisler To Audition For His Spot

Free agent acquisition to spend time on the DL before even making his regular season debut with the Padres.

Just as Padres seemed to be getting healthy (Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin have made Spring Training starts and Huston Street is pitching in games) news of another injury broke today. According to the San Diego Union Tribune's Dennis Lin (who I just met for the first time yesterday), the oft-injured starting pitcher Josh Johnson will be shut down for 10-14 days and will be out of commission for 4-5 weeks with a strained flexor tendon. With Opening Night just over a week away, that means a DL stint for the big right hander. Also according to Lin there are 4 candidates to replace Johnson in the regular season rotation: Matt Wisler, Donn Roach, Robbie Erlin and Jesse Hahn.

In addition to the regular season rotation Johnson's spot in the Spring Training rotation must be filled. He was scheduled to start in tomorrow's game. Instead Matt Wisler will toe the slab in what many will see as an audition to earn the regular season job. Wisler is one of the Padres' top prospects, but has never pitched above AA. If he does get called up his quick rise and ascension straight from AA would equal similar ascents by former Padres Jake Peavy and Mat Latos.

Despite Wisler's start tomorrow, Robbie Erlin might be the favorite for the job. Unlike Wisler, Erlin is already on the 40 man roster (as are fellow replacement candidates Roach and Hahn). He is also the only candidate with big league experience. Roach, like Wisler, has yet to pitch above AA and Hahn has never even pitched in either AA or AAA. Hahn was treated with kid gloves by the Rays and was rarely stretched out as a starter, but has a killer arsenal that projects to be able to get major league hitters out.

The injury certainly is bad news, but it makes for a new intriguing Spring Training storyline coming down the preseason's final stretch.