Braves sign Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson, seen here with former Atlanta and Arizona teammate Adam LaRoche, will be returning to the Braves.

The Atlanta Braves have signed free agent Kelly Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league training camp.

Johnson was originally drafted by the Braves in the supplemental first round (38th overall) of the 2000 draft. He made it to the majors with Atlanta in 2005 and spent four seasons with the Braves through 2009.

The Braves will give Johnson an opportunity to win a job on the 25-man roster. Johnson has played first base, second base, third base and left field in his nine-year career. He could get significant time in left field, or he might help bridge the gap until Jose Peraza is ready to take over second base later in the season.

Johnson played last season with the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles. He hit .215 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 265 at bats. Johnson was with Tampa Bay in 2013 and had 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 366 at bats. He spent two seasons (2011-2012) with the Blue Jays. When Johnson was let go by the Braves after the 2009 season, he spent two seasons in Arizona.

When Johnson first came up to the Braves, he played left field. Then he hurt his elbow and missed the entire 2006 season. When Johnson returned in 2007, he took over for Marcus Giles as the starting second baseman with the Braves. Johnson's best season with the Braves was in 2007 when he hit .276 with a .375 on base percentage, 16 home runs and 68 RBI. In his first season with the Diamondbacks in 2010, Johnson hit .284 with a .370 OBP, 26 home runs and 71 RBI.

Johnson is a left-handed hitter but he has had more success in his career against left-handed pitchers. He's got a career .272 batting average against southpaws, while he's hit .242 against right-handed pitchers.

Johnson will turn 33 on February 22.


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