TOR@CLE: Johnson strikes out six over seven solid

ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson downplayed the severity of a left knee injury on Saturday afternoon and said he doesn't feel like it has been a factor in his struggles on the mound.

Manager John Gibbons revealed early last week that Johnson has been dealing with tendinitis in his knee, and starting catcher J.P. Arencibia echoed those concerns on Friday.

Johnson admitted that the knee has bothered him at times this year but was adamant that it's something that he has always dealt with in his entire career and was not something he wanted to use as an excuse for his poor performance.

"I mean, I've had it since I was 11 years old, so it's nothing new," Johnson said. "Sometimes it'll be sore but actually, it feels as best as it has all year.

"Sometimes it'll come, sometimes it'll go, and probably about 90 to 95 percent of the time it's not an issue, but then sometimes it'll flare up and be sore. But I really haven't had a bad episode with it so far."

Johnson threw a bullpen session on Saturday morning and remains on schedule to make his next start Tuesday against the Mariners. That's when he'll attempt to reverse his recent fortunes, which have seen the former National League ERA leader post an 0-6 record with a 9.48 ERA since June 28.

To Johnson's credit, he has yet to shy away from the media despite his recent struggles. He has talked about his problems after each outing and hasn't backed away from the criticism in what was supposed to be a banner season for the soon-to-be free agent.

"Not while I'm out there," Johnson said when asked if it has been difficult to battle through start after start. "Once I'm out of the game, or in between innings, you get pretty frustrated, but you've just got to push all that aside and find ways to get outs. It's been a really tough go at it, but today's bullpen, I think, was a huge step."

Johnson added that the main goal of his bullpen was to keep the fastball down in the zone. He recently moved to the first-base side of the rubber in an attempt to improve his command to the outer half of the plate against right-handers.

A lot of the bullpen session also was spent on Johnson's curveball, which has been a major weapon in the past but ineffective this year. He continues to search for answers, but using injuries as an excuse isn't one of them.

"I'd rather have something hurt and throw the ball better instead of feeling good and throwing the ball like this," Johnson said. "I don't know, maybe I need to hurt my toe or something, break my own toe or something, and get on the right track."

Lincoln eager to contribute in weary bullpen

TOR@LAA: Lincoln pitches three hitless frames

ANAHEIM -- With the bullpen in desperate need of an additional arm, the Blue Jays turned to right-hander Brad Lincoln on Saturday.

Lincoln was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo while right-hander Todd Redmond was optioned to the Minors following a disappointing outing against the Angels. The need for a roster move arose after the relievers were forced to throw 10 innings over the past two days.

In Saturday night's 7-3 loss, Lincoln delivered three hitless innings against the Angels, striking out two and issuing one walk -- which was erased on a double play.

The emergency fill-in role is nothing new for Lincoln, who has now been recalled on three occasions this season, but it remains a difficult task for a reliever who was a mainstay in the big leagues with Pittsburgh until last year's trade prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"You just have to try and do what they ask of you and not try to take the bad out of it, whether it's being sent down or back and forth, back and forth," Lincoln said. "Just come up here, be who you are, and try to help the team get back on track."

Lincoln was on his way back from a road trip with his Bisons teammates in the wee hours of Saturday morning when he was informed of the promotion. He arrived in Buffalo around 5:30 a.m. ET and three hours later was boarding a flight to Anaheim.

The 28-year-old arrived in the Los Angeles area around 2 p.m., so he had barely any sleep, but he was more than willing to grind through the day in order to rejoin the Blue Jays.

Lincoln was 3-2 with an impressive 2.28 ERA in 23 2/3 innings for the Bisons this season while posting five saves. He hadn't pitched for the Blue Jays since June 8 when he tossed four shutout frames in an 18-inning game against the Rangers.

The native of Texas was optioned after that game with the Blue Jays in need of a fresh arm. At the time, he likely couldn't have envisioned just how long it would take to get back to the Major Leagues, but with Toronto's bullpen establishing itself as one of the best in baseball, there simply wasn't any room.

"It's tough, especially whenever the guys are throwing like they are," Lincoln said. "Kudos to them, but it does make it that much tougher for that spot to open back up to be able to come back up here and contribute. But I'm glad to be here, hope I can get in there and eat up some innings for them."

Happ on track to return Wednesday for Blue Jays

TOR@BAL: Happ fans six over six strong frames

ANAHEIM -- Left-hander J.A. Happ likely will make his return to the Blue Jays' starting rotation on Wednesday in Seattle.

Happ made his third rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo on Friday night and allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings. He threw 95 pitches, allowing six hits and three walks while also recording six strikeouts.

The next scheduled day for Happ to throw would be Wednesday and that lines up perfectly with when the Blue Jays need another starter. The outing normally would have gone to right-hander Todd Redmond, but he was optioned to the Minors after a disappointing start Friday against the Angels.

"It will probably be Happ," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's solid, he's healthy. He threw a lot of pitches [Friday night], but that's what he does."

Happ hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since he was struck on the head by a line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings in early May. He suffered a minor skull fracture on the play but it was a sprained right knee that ended up forcing him to miss so much time.

The native of Illinois has made a total of five rehab starts in the Minors and is now appropriately stretched out to make a return. The seven-year veteran began the season as the Blue Jays' fifth starter and owns a 4.23 ERA over the course of his career.