Johnson takes BP
It's 3 p.m., and early work at RFK has commenced. Manny Acta, wearing shades but no hat to keep the sun off his bald pate, is throwing batting practice. Tony Batista is taking grounders at first base. A newly shorn John Patterson is about to give a TV interview down the third base line.
And Nick Johnson is in the batting cage, swinging a bat.
Easy now. Don't think this means he's back next week or even next month, necessarily. Johnson spoke just the other day about how he still couldn't make any violent movements in the field, things like coming off the bag and charging a bunt, then stopping short to fire to third. I've seen him run sprints and that kind of thing, and he still looks to me like he's favoring his broken leg, or at least like he's still building strength.
But taking live batting practice on the field is a necessary step in his return. He taking soft toss in the batting cages a month ago, when the team was in San Diego. That progressed to hitting in the tunnels below whatever ballpark we were at. Now, he's on the field, with the sun out, wearing shorts and some high red socks, hitting off his new manager -- a guy for whom he has never played a game.
Nick will downplay this, because that's his nature. He will talk about how he hit a few roll-overs, some 4-3s, and he'll smile. But for a lineup that badly needs a guy who can get on base 40 percent of the time and stroke doubles, this is a good sign.
I've got some other stuff I'll post in a bit, but this news comes first.
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