Despite blowup, Johnson a fan of Fernandez
Braves third baseman admits mistakes in confrontation with Miami ace
ATLANTA -- As Braves third baseman Chris Johnson and some of his teammates were preparing for Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Marlins, they watched MLB Network highlights of the dominant pitching performances from Alex Wood and Jose Fernandez in Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat. The clip began with a look back to last September, when Fernandez gazed at his first career home run, and then found himself in the midst of a benches-clearing incident, sparked when he was scolded by former Atlanta catcher Brian McCann.
One of the most incensed combatants in this verbal spat was Johnson, who rushed toward the plate to yell at Fernandez. As Wednesday morning's highlights showed him doing a whole lot of yelling and doing his best Ultimate Warrior imitation as he returned to his position, Johnson smiled as his some of his teammates were ribbing him.
"People think I hate [Fernandez], but I love the guy," Johnson said. "I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that is probably why things got so out of hand. I learned a lot. Last year, I apologized to him and some of their guys the next day. People think it was one-sided with him doing all of the apologizing. I did a lot of things wrong last year with that experience."
Johnson's hot temper led to him being benched for two games last week after he unleashed his emotions during a dugout tantrum while going 0-for-5 during an April 12 win over the Nationals. Johnson entered Wednesday having hit .310 (9-for-29) in the seven games he had played since his benching. He recorded one of the three hits -- an eighth-inning single -- Fernandez surrendered while notching 14 strikeouts in eight innings on Tuesday.
"To an extent, I enjoy facing [Fernandez]," Johnson said. "He's the best you're going to get. So you put yourself up against the best and see how you stack up."
Wood, Fernandez to reprise duel Tuesday
ATLANTA -- The Braves and Marlins have decided to give Alex Wood and Jose Fernandez a couple extra days of rest coming off the impressive pitchers' duel the two young hurlers waged at Turner Field on Tuesday night. Consequently, Wood and Fernandez are currently slated to oppose each other again on Tuesday in Miami.
Wood could have returned to the mound to start Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Reds on regular rest. But the Braves have instead opted to send him into Tuesday's matchup with two extra days.
With Wood in his second professional season, the Braves are aiming to limit him at somewhere between 170-180 innings this year. Thus, this will likely not be the last time they attempt to take advantage of an opportunity to give him a couple extra days of rest. By doing so a few times over the course of the season, they will reduce his potential workload.
Just two years removed from his days at the University of Georgia, Wood has already totaled 35 innings through his first five starts. This puts him on pace to total more than 200 innings if he makes just 30 starts.
As Wood has posted a 1.54 ERA thus far this season, thoughts of him spending some time in the bullpen to minimize his workload have evaporated. He notched a career-high 11 strikeouts over eight innings in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Marlins and Fernandez, who matched his own career high with 14 strikeouts.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tuesday's game marked the first time opposing pitchers 24 or younger each struck out more than 10 batters since 1901.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.