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.