Braves' 2B Johnson doesn't have so much to prove

By: associated press
By: associated press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Kelly Johnson is a lot more relaxed this spring.

The Atlanta Braves second baseman doesn't have to worry about proving he's ready to start in the big leagues. Or that he's healthy. Or that he can adapt to a new position.

All those were checked off last season.

Johnson couldn't enjoy anything last spring. The Braves were counting on him to join the lineup, but there were no guarantees since he had only played 87 major league games to that point. Also, he had missed an entire season because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the sort of procedure normally reserved for pitchers.

He also was trying to learn a new position. He started out in the minors as a shortstop, came up to the majors as an outfielder, but had not played second base since his freshman year of high school.

Johnson can tone it down a bit, knowing his position is secure after a solid first full year in the big leagues. He batted .276 with 16 homers, 68 RBIs and nine stolen bases, spending most of the season in the leadoff role. He did lead the team with 14 errors, but that wasn't too bad considering he had no professional experience at second base.

This season, one of his goals is to cut down on the fielding miscues.


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