Kelly Johnson found himself playing first base Tuesday for the first time since, well, a long time ago. Nearly 16 years, actually. Johnson was 16 and almost fully recovered from a fractured ankle when his summer-league coach had him play first base to get his bat in the lineup. "I stood over there so I could still hit," Johnson said. "It was nothing other than the ball gets hit, run to first, catch the ball. Nothing happened." Same position, different world now. The Tampa Bay Rays will have Johnson play first base this season in an effort to get his bat in the lineup as often as possible, just as they will have the second baseman play left field. As a first baseman, Johnson will be asked to provide the same quality of defense as the team expects from the other infielders, meaning Johnson will be asked to do more than simply run to the bag and catch a throw from an infielder. "First base isn't just put a glove on somebody and throw them over there," Johnson said. "You can't just pull somebody out of the stands. It isn't that complicated, but there's more to it than people generally assume."
Rays' Johnson finding his way at first
Tampa Tribune | Mar 16