MadFriars Q & A: Michael Johnson

Just prior to a trip to the disabled list, Michael Johnson sat down with JohnConniff for an in depth interview. Johnson had been swinging the bat well and will miss up to five weeks. "He is going to have surgery (Tuesday)," Tye Waller, the Padres Director of Player Development, confirmed.

"About a month - give or take a week," Waller said on the timetable for his return. "Three weeks has been the soonest."

Michael Johnson, the Padres number two pick in the 2002 draft and a former teammate of Khalil Greene at Clemson, was Player of the Month for Lake Elsinore for April and we caught up with him before a recent game and hand injury that sent him home to see the doctors. John Conniff - Where you surprised to be sent back down to Lake Elsinore coming out of spring training?

Michael Johnson - No, not really surprised. I kind of look at it like wherever they think I'm best suited for they're going to send me. I'm going to go and be happy and work hard and try to advance. Yeah, I was hoping to get that opportunity to go to Mobile at the start of the season, but I was prepared for either one.

John Conniff - You had hit pretty well in both 2003 and 2004 before being injured both times, but you had a great first month of the season in Lake Elsinore. What do you attribute the biggest reasons for your success?

Michael Johnson - I don't really know. I just came in worked real hard in the off season. I worked on my strength, my swing to get off to the kind of start that I wanted to and needed too this year.

John Conniff - When players always refer to how hard they work in the off season, what exactly does that entail?

Michael Johnson - For me, I just did a lot of tee work and was in the cages five, six days a week spending an hour or two hours just trying to take as many quality swings as I could and other various hitting drills that I learned over the years.

John Conniff - How do you work on your defense?

Michael Johnson - You get some people to hit fungous to you, which I tried to as much as I could. You also can do some work on your footwork, quickness and agility. When you feel like you have more time because you are quicker, it slows the game down and allows you not to force things.

If I can slow the game down in the field then I have a much better opportunity to pick the hop that I want to take the ball on and get in position to make the play.

John Conniff - I always ask this question to guys that are right handed but left handed hitters, how did that happen?

Michael Johnson - Well that was one of those things my dad was responsible for. My dad played college ball and when I was little if I picked it up right handed, my dad would always tell me to pick it up left handed. I credit him for that, and I've hit left handed ever since.

John Conniff - You were teammates in college with Khalil Greene, the Padres current shortstop. Do you still keep in touch with him and what kind of advice did he offer you.

Michael Johnson - I was in the big league camp for a couple weeks and we worked and hung out at Clemson a lot during the off season.

We discussed more the mental part of the game, about what he does to get prepared to play everyday and how to stay consistent. We're different players, he's a shortstop, I'm a first baseman and left handed hitter, so baseball wise we are different, but the mental part of the game is what he has helped me on the most.

Denis Savage - Is it tough getting into a rhythm with you and Fernando splitting time at DH and first base?

Michael Johnson - I don't find it very hard at all because every day we take BP, take groundballs and prepare the same way. My preparation is always the same.

Denis Savage - If you had to be a superhero who would you be?

Michael Johnson - (Laughing) I don't even know about that or really have any idea (loud laughter by all parties as Denis makes a graceful exit).

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