JUPITER, Fla. (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins got good news Tuesday as pitching ace Josh Johnson looked like his old-self in a spring training start against the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to MLB.com, Johnson hit a peak velocity on his fastball to 96 miles per hour and was pitching most of the game between 91 and 96 miles per hour. He only pitched four and two-thirds innings and allowed two runs on four hits and struck out four.

Johnson was a big part of the Marlins’ problems in 2011. He went on the disabled list in May and never saw the field again during the season. Johnson was battling shoulder inflammation that never got a solid cure through the season.

The Marlins need Johnson to regain his 2010 form to be a serious contender in the rugged National League East. With Johnson in the lineup, the Marlins have a formidable starting five including Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, and Carlos Zambrano.

Johnson though is the key to make the whole rotation click and if he can sustain the form he has showed through spring training, the Marlins should be in perfect position to fight for a wildcard berth in 2012.

MLB.com said Johnson is on schedule to make the first start of the regular season against the St. Louis Cardinals at the new Marlins Park.


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