Veteran first baseman Dan Johnson, who bounces around from Triple-A to the majors every season and occasionally comes up with a big hit on a big stage, has signed a minor-league deal with the Astros.
Johnson played just 15 games in the majors this past season for the Blue Jays and also failed to post his usual great numbers at Triple-A, although he did manage 18 homers and an .815 OPS in 107 games.
He’ll serve as organization depth for Houston, probably beginning the season at Triple-A.
Interesting story here from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca about Dan Johnson, who has been on the fringes of the major leagues for the past few seasons as a position player/designated hitter. Now 35 years old, he has begun to think about his baseball mortality. Part of his plan to stick around? The knuckleball.
Yes, Johnson is trying to develop a knuckleball in order to be a “two-way” player. This isn’t exactly a new thing for him. Johnson has messed around with the pitch for years, but he began thinking about it more seriously in 2013 when he was with the Yankees organization and threw it regularly during side sessions. He was in spring training with the Blue Jays (and R.A. Dickey) this year, but a cracked fingernail prevented him from throwing his knuckleball until later in the year. Still, he continues to work on the pitch and believes that it could help his case for a roster spot.
“My hope was to ultimately become a guy that could do both,” he said. “Essentially if you needed a bat or position player I could do that, and if you’ve got a game that’s maybe getting out of hand, instead of burning up a whole bullpen, being able to go out and throw 70 or 80 pitches and suck up innings.”
“I don’t want to do it as a sideshow. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it right.”
Johnson is a free agent right now, but here’s hoping he gets a spring training invite somewhere and a real chance to show what he can do with the knuckler. This could be a lot of fun.
The Blue Jays escaped with a 6-4 victory over the Yankees this afternoon and with it, they snapped a 17-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. The losing skid began on September 19, 2012 and continued when the Jays lost on Friday night. The streak is the second longest in Jays’ history, trailing the 19 consecutive games lost to the Orioles at Memorial Stadium between 1978-81, per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm.
Dan Johnson played the hero, knocking in four runs on the afternoon including three with a home run off of Jeff Francis in the ninth inning. The blast gave the Jays a 6-2 lead. Closer Casey Janssen got into some trouble in the bottom of the ninth, serving up a two-run home run to Carlos Beltran to make it 6-4, but he was able to retire Brian McCann and Chase Headley to end the game and the Yankee Stadium skid.
The win snaps the Yankees’ four-game winning streak. The Jays have won six of their last eight. Both teams trail the AL East-leading Orioles by 3.5 games.