Could be. He’s certainly a strong candidate, as Bryan Hoch of MLB.com explains in his latest. Hoch notes that Johnson didn’t play third base in the bigs until last year, but he did play a little in the minors — and a lot of shortstop in the minors — so it’s not totally foreign ground. And, of course, he’s been all over the field in the past and has never really embarrassed himself anywhere.
The key, though, is his bat, as that’s probably the best shot he has at distinguishing himself from his competition in Yankees camp this spring. He has some plate discipline issues, but he does have a bit of pop. He’s a .253/.335/.427 career hitter at the major league level and he averages 19 homers per 162 games. Scott Sizemore is something of a wild card, but Johnson is better than Eduardo Nunez.
In any event, it should be an interesting competition.
Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.
This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:
“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline. Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires. We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”
That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.