After receiving an invite to spring training 2005 with the big club, Johnson was ticketed to be the starter at Springfield. However, almost immediately, he suffered a knee injury that knocked him out until August. At that point, he was asked to play some first base, then began catching bullpens at Springfield.
His rehab plan continued in the fall, with the goal to allow Johnson to make up for lost playing time. He reported to the Instructional League in Florida in October, then moved to the Arizona Fall League for what would be his second consecutive season there.
Johnson initially struggled in the AFL, going two for his first 29 at the plate before doubling his hit total on Friday. To compete in the AFL, Johnson was required to re-sign with the Cardinals for 2006, despite being eligible to become a free agent as a six-year minor league veteran.
Talking with Johnson again reaffirmed his commitment to the only organization for which he has played as a professional.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.