Steve Johnson to make 2013 debut on Saturday in Minnesota

May 10, 2013 | Luke Jones

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Needing a starter to replace Miguel Gonzalez on Saturday, the Orioles will send right-hander Steve Johnson to the hill against the Minnesota Twins.

Though an official roster move hasn’t been made, the Orioles will recall the 25-year-old Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk and likely option right-handed reliever Alex Burnett to make room on the 25-man roster. Burnett was recalled to replace Gonzalez when the starting pitcher was sent to the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

Less than six weeks into the 2013 season, manager Buck Showalter will turn to his ninth starting pitcher after Johnson began the season on the 15-day DL with a strained lat muscle suffered late in spring training. Johnson was then activated and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on April 30.

A St. Paul’s alum, Johnson went 4-0 with a 2.11 earned run average in 38 1/3 innings that spanned 12 games and included four starts for the Orioles last season. In three starts for the Tides this season, Johnson is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 16 1/3 innings.

With the Orioles scheduled to have two days off next week, Johnson could be optioned right back to Norfolk after Saturday’s start unless Showalter elects to keep him as an extra option in the bullpen. Following Saturday, Showalter could use Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman on regular rest through May 18 and put veteran Freddy Garcia in the bullpen for the time being. Gonzalez is eligible to return from the disabled list on May 19, meaning he could be back in the starting rotation by the time the Orioles would even need a fourth starter again.