Johnson Disappointed By Season-Ending Injury

Jay Johnson has been one of the most durable, versatile and clutch-hitting players in the Red Sox chain since he was drafted in 2005. But he'll have to watch the rest of this season from an unfamiliar position. (DIEHARD EXCLUSIVE)

Johnson suffered a torn Achilles tendon while running the bases in Double-A Portland's 9-3 loss to New Hampshire Monday night. He will undergo surgery Wednesday in Boston and has been told he'll need six-to-nine months of rehabilitation.

"I hit a double—what should have been a double—into the right-centerfield gap and I was thinking three [bases] right off the bat," Johnson told Diehard from his Boston hotel room Tuesday afternoon. "As soon as I hit first base, it felt like somebody hit me in the back of the heel with a sledgehammer. I went down pretty quickly and was in a lot of pain, obviously, and got carried off the field. Brad [Pearson], the trainer there, was looking at it and told me the prognosis didn't look very good."

Johnson was hitting .256 with a team-high 10 RBI and entered Monday with an RBI in six straight games. He's collected each of the Sea Dogs' last three walk-off RBI dating back to last August.

"I was obviously pretty upset about things last night and kind of realizing that I'm going to miss a lot of time," Johnson said. "It's not even missing time—it's being around the guys and all those kind of things. [Now he wants to] get healthy for winter ball—it gives me some motivation for that. Get ready for winter ball and go there and play well."

Johnson led all Sox farmhands last season with 521 at-bats and tied for the lead in games played with 134. He also tied for the Sea Dogs lead in RBI (64) even though he spent the first month of the season with Single-A Lancaster. He hit .297 with 57 RBI in 136 at-bats with runners in scoring position last year at Portland, played all three outfield positions and made just one error in 110 games.

During his breakout season in 2006, he ranked second among farmhands in homers (18), fourth in RBI (73) and third in at-bats (482) between Single-A Greenville, Single-A Wilmington and Portland. In addition, Johnson played in every single game during his career at Xavier University from 2002-2005. "This is the first major injury I've had," Johnson said. "Had a couple sore arm days when I was in Wilmington and things like that, but never a big thing like this. This is by far and away the worst injury I've ever had."

The injury occurred just five days after Johnson bolstered his jack-of-all-trades resume by pitching the two innings and delivering the game-winning hit to make himself the winning pitcher in Portland's 8-7, 17-inning win over Connecticut.

"We were getting beat last night and it took the winds out of everybody's sails," Sea Dogs manager Arnie Beyeler said Tuesday. "It was a tough night. A good teammate, all the guys like him. Good guy and he works hard. It's tough to see anytime a guy goes down like that."

Johnson, 25, was selected by the Sox in the 13th round of the 2005 draft. He is ranked 41st in Diehard's 2008 prospect guide.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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