PORTLAND — Brian Johnson isn’t just willing to return to the scene of his worst nightmare. He’s doing everything in his power to make it happen.

If he continues pitching as well he has been this season, including since his May 2 promotion to the Portland Sea Dogs, he may be back on the Fenway Park mound soon.

Back on the Fenway mound where he suffered multiple broken bones in his face after being hit by a line drive two pitches into his “Futures at Fenway” outing on Aug. 18, 2012.

“I’m excited about it, even thinking about having the opportunity to go back there,” Johnson said. “Even though I got hit, it was still an awesome experience. Not many people can say they even did that much. It stinks that it happened, but it happened. What am I going to do about it now?”

Johnson, who was just four starts into his professional career with the Single-A Lowell Spinners at the time, never lost consciousness. His injuries, including 16 orbital fractures, a broken nose, and a ruptured tooth nerve, didn’t require surgery.

“I drank a lot of milk,” he joked. “I have to thank my Dad for that.”

Johnson missed the rest of the 2012 season while recovering, eating no solid food besides macaroni and cheese, one morsel at a time.

He didn’t get to work out at 100 percent but for two or three weeks before the 2013 season. Physically, he felt like he was playing catch-up the entire year, but that was only part of the recovery process.

“(Recovering) mentally was the biggest thing,” he said. “You take the mound and you want to give your team the best effort you can. Sometimes I felt like I was almost trying to go out there and not get hit instead of going out there to get the win and compete.”

It took time and repetition for Johnson to get over that fear. When he stopped flinching any time a ball was hit near him, he knew he had overcome his biggest obstacle.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound southpaw made three stops in Boston’s minor league system last year, spending a little extra time in Fort Myers before pitching 15 games at low-A Greenville and high-A Salem. He posted a combined 1-6 record but his numbers were otherwise impressive (2.54 ERA, 60 hits, 35 walks, 84 strikeouts in 85 innings), despite missing some time with shoulder tendinitis.

An All-American at Florida and first-round pick (31st overall) in the 2012 draft, Johnson was rated the No. 14 prospect in the Red Sox organization this season by Baseball America. He was the Sea Dogs’ final cut out of spring training and returned to Salem. He made his second stay there a brief one, winning three of his five starts and fanning 33 in 25.2 innings before getting called north a month into the season.

In six starts at Portland, he hasn’t missed a beat. Double-A batters are hitting .203 against him. Armed with a low-90s fastball, curve, changeup and slider, he’s struck out 29 while allowing just 25 hits in 35.1 innings.

“There’s a lot to be impressed with,” said Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon, who also managed Johnson in Salem last year. “He throws a lot of strikes. He works fast and (with) a lot of confidence out there. I think he’s doing everything right. He just needs to gain some more experience.”

Johnson likes the progress he’s made this season but knows he’s still on a learning curve at Double-A.

“The biggest thing is making pitch-to-pitch adjustments. You don’t want to make them too late or things can spiral out of control too quick,” he said.”The hitters have a very smart plan going to the plate here. They’re very educated. They know what they’re doing when they get up there.”

Johnson believes he he can adjust to the hitters’ plans, as long as he keeps throwing strikes. He’s walked only 11 batters so far at Portland.

“I pride myself in that,” he said. “It’s tough to swallow when you walk guys when you have such a good defense behind you, guys like (shortstop Deven) Marrero and (recently-promoted second baseman Mookie) Betts.”

He looks forward to the day when he has the fabled Green Monster behind him again. He’d rather not revisit the scary conclusion to his last Fenway experience, but understands by the time he does get back there, he will have answered questions about it dozens of times.

“It’s funny because even my friends back home say, ‘Hey, man, every article about you has something to do with you getting hit,'” said Johnson, a Cocoa Beach, Fla. resident. “It comes with the territory. Am I tired of talking about it? Maybe a little. I think it’s in the past. It happened, so I expect it every time. It’s a learning lesson.”


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