CLEVELAND -- Erik Johnson returned to the mound Friday night for Triple-A Charlotte against Buffalo, hoping to work his way back to the White Sox in the not-too-distant future. He certainly made a strong first impression, throwing six scoreless innings, striking out six and most importantly, walking just one.
The right-handed rookie was being counted on as a significant part of the 2014 rotation, but was optioned to Charlotte after his start on April 25 against the Rays. Johnson allowed four runs over 1 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay, and has walked 15 in 23 2/3 innings while striking out 18 for the White Sox.
"Just compete and be consistent," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura on what he wants to see from Johnson. "Even coming up last year, I think he was just better at being aggressive in the zone and controlling that, and that's part of being up here. You have to be able to do that to succeed."
Mound issues for Johnson might be as much a crisis of confidence as being short with his raw stuff.
"Young guys probably have that. It's more of an issue for younger guys than it is for older guys," Ventura said. "Everybody runs into a period where they don't feel quite as sharp in throwing strikes and commanding things. But he is a competitor and he'll get there.
"He's serious. He's very committed to what he's doing. It is a job. That's just part of his personality and also part of what makes him good, too."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.