Johnson, who's father Dave Johnson pitched for the Orioles from 1989-1991, was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with their 13th round selection in the 2005 MLB Draft out of St. Paul's High School in Brooklandville, MD. Johnson would pitch in the Dodgers farm system through mid-2009 before he was sent to Baltimore as part of the George Sherrill trade. He finally was able to realize his dream when Baltimore called him up to the Orioles and made his major league debut on July 15, 2012. Later, on August 8, 2012, he made his first career start against the Seattle Mariners. Johnson, 23 years to the day after his father recorded his first career victory, picked up his first big league win as he threw six innings allowing just two runs with nine strikeouts. Steve finished the season a perfect 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 38 1/3 innings pitched over the course of twelve appearances (four starts).
The hometown guy was also kind enough to sit down with Orioles101 for an interview and respond to a few questions for our readers:
Orioles101: First let me just thank you for taking the time to do this for us and I know our readers will enjoy this. First one for you, and I am sure you have been asked this one several time. Can you put into words, how you felt when you made your major league debut in July for your hometown team, the team your father pitched for and a team in playoff contention?
I still pinch myself every now and then. It was a special day. The goal was always to get to the big leagues, but to have it work out where I was able to pitch at home for the Orioles in my debut was more than I could have hoped for. The fans gave me a great ovation, it was great.
Orioles101: It was one of my top five Orioles moments in 2012 for sure. When you made your first start on August 8th, did you know before the game that it was the 23rd anniversary of your father's first career victory?
Yes, I saw it on Twitter the night before. My dad picked me up at the airport and we just kind of laughed about it. It was such a weird stat and I couldn't really believe it. There was a little pressure because I really wanted to win and make the day special and of course the team was in a playoff race, so the win would be big. I was glad the guys put up a lot of runs for me because it definitely took some pressure off.
Orioles101: Never hurts to get some runs as a starter, haha. Baltimore and Orioles fans were extremely excited for playoff baseball after 14 long seasons, and I am sure you were watching on TV the last time the O's played in the playoffs. How did it feel to be a part of bringing playoff baseball back to Charm City?
That was awesome. Just awesome. I was 10 the last time they made the playoffs and went to the playoff games. It was a big deal to me to be a part of the team that made the playoffs again. And I know how big it was for the fans. You get used to watching guys celebrate after winning playoff series on TV and you want to do that. It was awesome to do it last year, but we all want to do it more than one time.
Orioles101: As do fans want to see it more than one time! A lot of "experts" are saying that the O's can't do what they did last year again, how do you respond to that?
They doubted us all last year until we beat Texas in the Wildcard game. Doesn't matter what anyone says about us. We've gained a lot of confidence from last year and we know what we're capable of. So we'll go do what we need to do and win games. It's more fun proving people wrong anyway.
Orioles101: Without a doubt! What are some of your goals heading into Spring Training for 2013?
First goal is to make the team. Whether it's as a starter or reliever, it doesn't matter. But overall, I'd like to improve my slider and try to work on the splitter I started working on last year. Just another pitch that could help out in certain situations.
Orioles101: I know Orioles fans feel you should be on the team! When working on a new pitch, like your splitter, do you keep it in the bullpen or work on it during game action as well?
Mostly in the bullpen, but I used it in a few games last spring and then early in the season last year. You just have to pick your spots.
Orioles101: Other than you father, what pitcher did you idolize when you were growing up?
I honestly didn't idolize many pitchers when I was younger. It was just my dad and then Cal Ripken Jr., but when I started focusing more on pitching, I started to watch Greg Maddux. He was so good at moving the ball and keeping hitters off balance.
Orioles101: All great guys to look up to. Last one for you, who wins this year's Super Bowl?
I'm hoping the Ravens. Can't pick against my team.
Orioles101: Good man! Steve, I just want to thank you again for taking the time to do this for us, best of luck in 2013, and hoping to see you in the rotation of bullpen all season as you deserve it.
No problem and thanks!
Orioles101 would like to thank Steve Johnson for taking the time for us, and after his performance last season, he undoubtedly deserves a roster spot. If Baltimore does not sign a starting pitcher, Johnson will be competing for the number five spot in the rotation or a spot in the bullpen in 2013. Johnson has great mechanics, and with his stuff, he should be a quality pitcher for some time to come.
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