Johnson has homecoming at Camden Yards

Johnson has homecoming at Camden Yards

BALTIMORE -- For the first time since being traded to the A's, Jim Johnson returned to the site where he became an All-Star closer on Friday.

Never mind the modifier. Johnson isn't even a closer anymore.

The right-hander lost that title less than two weeks into the season, following a string of struggles with his new club, and his role has since been up in the air. He's pitched just twice in the last 12 days, and he's even been the subject of trade rumors.

So instead of gushing about closing out games for the American League's best team upon his arrival at Camden Yards on Friday, where Johnson spent eight years with the Orioles, he spoke to a large group of reporters about what's been a rather disappointing season.

"It's been frustrating," Johnson said, "but I still have a positive attitude every day coming to the ballpark, and I'm trying to help the team win any way I can."

Johnson compiled 122 saves for the Orioles, including a combined 101 the previous two years, but he has just two for the A's, who are paying him $10 million, and his ERA is 6.26 -- notably, 14.04 at home, where he's been persistently booed by the home crowd.

The drastic splits remain head-scratching.

"You can't help but see the numbers, and it's not like it's a real small sample at this point, but I really don't know. His stuff looks the same," said manager Bob Melvin. "Sometimes he'll have games where he's a little more elevated than others."

"You guys tell me my stats. I honestly don't know them," said Johnson. "I've never been one for stats."

On Friday he said Baltimore has "great fans," noting a "mutual respect," but didn't knock the A's faithful despite the booing, instead saying, "They're good fans."

"They all get it. I think there's no malice behind [the booing]," he continued. "They just want their team to win, which is understandable. I can't blame them.

"Despite not pitching well at home, I'm getting a lot of confidence and support from the fans when we're out in the bullpen."

Johnson maintains he may have put pressure on himself in the early going but also admits he was simply not throwing strikes.

"I was just walking guys, and from that point on, I ran into a little bit of bad luck," he said. "But I've come to the ballpark every day, putting in the work, trying to help the team win."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.