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Spring Headlines: Josh Johnson to miss month with strained flexor muscle; Julio Teheran gets opening day nod for Braves

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

Baseball is back. As we get closer to the regular season, be sure to stop by The Stew each morning for your daily helping of spring storylines.

JOSH JOHNSON WILL BEGIN THE SEASON ON THE DISABLED LIST after being diagnosed with a strained flexor muscle. Johnson, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the San Diego Padres during the offseason, will be shut down completely for 10-14 days before being reevaluated.

That leaves a best case scenario for a return sitting around 4-5 weeks. However, given Johnson's extensive injury history, there won't be a lot of confidence that he can stay within the timetable.

Here's more from MLB.com's Corey Brock:

Johnson last pitched on Tuesday against the Mariners and complained of pain the following day, Black said.

"He's really frustrated -- in his words, he's devastated," Black said. "He felt so good coming into December and into January. He felt really good coming to Spring Training. He felt great up until his last outing. Hopefully, it's nothing more than a strain."

Without Johnson, the Padres rotation depth will be tested with unproven right-handers Matt Wisler, Donn Roach and left-hander Robbie Erlin now in the mix. Johnson was on track to be San Diego's No. 4 starter.

JULIO TEHERAN WILL START THE ATLANTA BRAVES OPENER against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 31. The 23-year-old right-hander almost gets the job by default after Atlanta lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries. Mike Minor will also start the season on the disabled list after experiencing shoulder soreness. But that's not to say Teheran isn't qualified. During his rookie campaign last season, he went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 185 2/3 innings.

According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Teheran was the most logical selection for manager Freddy Gonzalez given that newly-signed Ervin Santana is still a little behind schedule. However, the skipper wouldn't reveal the news before having a little fun at Teheran's expense.

But not too big that Gonzalez couldn’t joke with Teheran before making it official Saturday morning. He called the pitcher into the manager’s office without smiling and asked Teheran what he had done the night before, as if he were in trouble.

“I knew I didn’t do anything wrong; the only thing I do is try to do the right things,” Teheran said, smiling. “I kind of took the joke. He said something like, ‘What did you do last night?’ I said, I slept the whole night, because I was tired.

“I wasn’t doing anything last night, because I was tired. But that was funny.”

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(USA Today)

JOAKIM SORIA NAILED DOWN THE CLOSER'S ROLE for the Texas Rangers over former closer Neftali Feliz, who according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com still hasn't secured his roster spot.

Soria, 29, is an experienced closer himself, having saved 160 games for the Kansas City Royals from 2007-11. He was signed by the Rangers last season while rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery, so he's clearly shown the team he's healthy enough to pitch at a closer's level. Feliz, on the other hand, is still coming back from Tommy John surgery in August of 2012, and still hasn't convinced the team he's ready to contribute in the big leagues.

"Neftali hasn't been pitching in two years," Washington said. "Let it play out and see what happens. Neftali is healthy, now he has to win a job. He's just not going to win the closer's spot."

Alexi Ogando, who lost out on the Rangers final rotation spot to Tanner Scheppers, will also be in the mix for save opportunities should Soria stuggle or need a break.

JEFF FRANCOEUR WAS CUT BY THE CLEVELAND INDIANS on Saturday after signing a minor league deal and attempting to win a job as a backup outfielder. Francoeur had a decent camp, hitting .286 with a homer, two doubles and 10 RBI in 13 games, but it wasn't enough to overcome general manager Chris Antonetti's roster number crunch.

“It was tough,” said Antonetti. “Jeff had a really good camp. We’re all confident he can help a major-league team. For us, it’s how we put all the pieces together, not individually who may be the best player."

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, veteran utilityman Elliot Johnson won the coveted bench position.

SKIP SCHUMAKER DISLOCATED HIS LEFT SHOULDER and will miss about a month, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans. The Cincinnati's Reds likely utilityman suffered the injury diving for a ball in Friday night's Cactus League game. His loss should cement the roster spot of outfielder Roger Bernandina, who connected for his fourth spring homer on Saturday.

It seems the Angels have a decision to make regarding infielder Chad Tracy.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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