Johnson Keeps Pushing On

For many major leaguers, fruitful careers spanning a decade or more helps leave a legacy that will surpass their own years. On the contrary, fans rarely hear of or pay much attention to the incalculable amount of players that sojourn around the majors and minors, always playing for that permanent place in the bigs. Hard-working Clippers third-basemen Russ Johnson exemplifies a member of the majority that is undeservedly overlooked.

(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)

Russ Johnson possesses a strong understanding of his role and where his future is headed. At 33-years old and no longer a highly touted young prospect, Johnson may be overshadowed by teammates, but his worth to the Clippers should not be under-appreciated.

Firstly, Johnson is off to a torrid start, hitting .338 while leading the team in home runs (5) and placing third in RBI (12) from the three hole in the order. Cooper Stadium is especially kind to Johnson where the ball seems to rocket off his bat to all points of the field. It was there on April 24th that Johnson recorded his second career two-homer game. When asked about his early season power surge, Johnson was quick to contribute it to his supporting cast.

"The hitting instructor...it was hard to get into a groove last year which is what I wanted to work on," offered Johnson. "The coaches both in Spring Training and K-Long (hitting coach Kevin Long) have been great. They helped me get my timing and rhythm back to where I could feel comfortable. They showed me things that I had lost a feel for, that were there all along."

He added that his split time between Columbus and the Bronx may have attributed to his sporadic power and inconsistency. In 2004, Johnson popped 17 home runs, including the postseason, with the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League, further adding his value as a power hitting guardian of the hot corner.

"I've always had power," said Johnson. "I never felt like I didn't. When I've had the opportunity to get 400 at-bats in a season, I put up those kinds of numbers like I did in Iowa. I'll drive the ball with whatever they give me. I like the fastballs of course, but I make adjustments to whatever the pitcher is going to throw me."

Johnson, barring an injury, will undoubtedly reach the 400 at-bat plateau and be relied upon as a major RBI contributor. But he does not feel the pressure to be the Clippers main run producer.

"I don't feel it at all," explained Johnson. "To me, it's like backyard ball, I try to swing hard and knock the guys in. No pressure except what you put on yourself. Sometimes there is success and other time failure. I know if I put a good swing on the ball, they'll drop and those RBIs will come."

Beyond his current work on the field, it has been a long, testing career for the Louisiana native. Beginning in 1995 out of the Double-A Texas League, Johnson has spent the better half of a decade going back and forth between a multitude of minor and major league clubs including Houston and Tampa Bay, where he was recalled numerous times each, prior to last year's spot on the Yankee squad.

To his own admission, although refraining from the details, briefly walking away from the game after the 2002 season was one of the hardest decisions of his life. He felt he had to regain control his self-control, and when he did, he came back with a stronger resolve and a firmer grasp of what he hopes to accomplish. His past, however, does faze him as he holds an unwavering belief in himself.

"I want to be in the big leagues," confessed Johnson. "I walked away from the game in 2002 to get my life back in order, ever since then, I've never wanted to give up because baseball is what I do. The drive is to get back to the big leagues because I think its where I belong, so should everybody else that plays the game. I love the game, but its not number one in my life. I've got other priorities first, but its still my job and it's what I love to do and I don't really know how to do anything else."

As one of the few players on this Clippers team with extended Major League experience, it could be expected that younger players would look to Johnson as a leader; a voice that could detail what it takes to get to the next level. Yet, through his earthy Southern accent, Johnson explained that he does not see himself in such a role.

"I don't feel that I have responsibility to be leader. I think it's part of my nature that I want to be a positive influence to guys because it's a game of failure and I try to encourage guys. You're going to have good and bad times. But I think success can be just as hard to handle as failure. First I think you got to learn how to fail, which for some younger guys can be difficult. But I believe in the guys I play with and this team altogether," Johnson detailed.

The badge of a baseball journeyman is earned through years of hard labor on the diamond, and for many, the returns may never justify the work. But Russ Johnson welcomes the exertion and the hard times, because to him, if it were not there, that is when his world would seem irregular.

"The biggest challenge is keeping a positive frame of mind and not lose my peace and believing that as long as I've got a uniform on, I've got a chance," Johnson concluded. "I truly believe that I've had to fight and scrap. I wouldn't know what to do without controversy or without setback. To keep pushing on and not get down because of situations, that I think is the hardest thing to control."

With a power stroke and a keen sense of what he desires, Johnson will surely earn one more justified crack at the Majors.

_____________________________________________________

Subscribe to PinstripesPlus.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on PinstripesPlus.com, Scout™ Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all Scout.com Websites, and Player Pages, detailing the progress and careers of players from high school, the minors, and the pro ranks.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)
\r\n
\r\nRuss Johnson possesses a strong understanding of his role and where his future is headed. At 33-years old and no longer a highly touted young prospect, Johnson may be overshadowed by teammates, but his worth to the Clippers should not be under-appreciated.
\r\n
\r\nFirstly, Johnson is off to a torrid start, hitting .338 while leading the team in home runs (5) and placing third in RBI (12) from the three hole in the order. Cooper Stadium is especially kind to Johnson where the ball seems to rocket off his bat to all points of the field. It was there on April 24th that Johnson recorded his second career two-homer game. When asked about his early season power surge, Johnson was quick to contribute it to his supporting cast.
\r\n
\r\n\"The hitting instructor...it was hard to get into a groove last year which is what I wanted to work on,\" offered Johnson. \"The coaches both in Spring Training and K-Long (hitting coach Kevin Long) have been great. They helped me get my timing and rhythm back to where I could feel comfortable. They showed me things that I had lost a feel for, that were there all along.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe added that his split time between Columbus and the Bronx may have attributed to his sporadic power and inconsistency. In 2004, Johnson popped 17 home runs, including the postseason, with the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League, further adding his value as a power hitting guardian of the hot corner.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always had power,\" said Johnson. \"I never felt like I didn't. When I've had the opportunity to get 400 at-bats in a season, I put up those kinds of numbers like I did in Iowa. I'll drive the ball with whatever they give me. I like the fastballs of course, but I make adjustments to whatever the pitcher is going to throw me.\"
\r\n
\r\nJohnson, barring an injury, will undoubtedly reach the 400 at-bat plateau and be relied upon as a major RBI contributor. But he does not feel the pressure to be the Clippers main run producer.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't feel it at all,\" explained Johnson. \"To me, it's like backyard ball, I try to swing hard and knock the guys in. No pressure except what you put on yourself. Sometimes there is success and other time failure. I know if I put a good swing on the ball, they'll drop and those RBIs will come.\"
\r\n
\r\nBeyond his current work on the field, it has been a long, testing career for the Louisiana native. Beginning in 1995 out of the Double-A Texas League, Johnson has spent the better half of a decade going back and forth between a multitude of minor and major league clubs including Houston and Tampa Bay, where he was recalled numerous times each, prior to last year's spot on the Yankee squad.
\r\n
\r\nTo his own admission, although refraining from the details, briefly walking away from the game after the 2002 season was one of the hardest decisions of his life. He felt he had to regain control his self-control, and when he did, he came back with a stronger resolve and a firmer grasp of what he hopes to accomplish. His past, however, does faze him as he holds an unwavering belief in himself.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to be in the big leagues,\" confessed Johnson. \"I walked away from the game in 2002 to get my life back in order, ever since then, I've never wanted to give up because baseball is what I do. The drive is to get back to the big leagues because I think its where I belong, so should everybody else that plays the game. I love the game, but its not number one in my life. I've got other priorities first, but its still my job and it's what I love to do and I don't really know how to do anything else.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs one of the few players on this Clippers team with extended Major League experience, it could be expected that younger players would look to Johnson as a leader; a voice that could detail what it takes to get to the next level. Yet, through his earthy Southern accent, Johnson explained that he does not see himself in such a role.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't feel that I have responsibility to be leader. I think it's part of my nature that I want to be a positive influence to guys because it's a game of failure and I try to encourage guys. You're going to have good and bad times. But I think success can be just as hard to handle as failure. First I think you got to learn how to fail, which for some younger guys can be difficult. But I believe in the guys I play with and this team altogether,\" Johnson detailed.
\r\n
\r\nThe badge of a baseball journeyman is earned through years of hard labor on the diamond, and for many, the returns may never justify the work. But Russ Johnson welcomes the exertion and the hard times, because to him, if it were not there, that is when his world would seem irregular.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest challenge is keeping a positive frame of mind and not lose my peace and believing that as long as I've got a uniform on, I've got a chance,\" Johnson concluded. \"I truly believe that I've had to fight and scrap. I wouldn't know what to do without controversy or without setback. To keep pushing on and not get down because of situations, that I think is the hardest thing to control.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a power stroke and a keen sense of what he desires, Johnson will surely earn one more justified crack at the Majors.
\r\n
\r\n_____________________________________________________
\r\n
\r\nSubscribe to PinstripesPlus.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on PinstripesPlus.com, Scout™ Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all Scout.com Websites, and Player Pages, detailing the progress and careers of players from high school, the minors, and the pro ranks.
\r\n
\r\nSample the PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at no risk for 7 days, then pay only $7.95 or $21.95. If you want to save 2 months off the monthly subscription price, simply choose the annual PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at $79.95.
","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\n(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)
\r\n
\r\nRuss Johnson possesses a strong understanding of his role and where his future is headed. At 33-years old and no longer a highly touted young prospect, Johnson may be overshadowed by teammates, but his worth to the Clippers should not be under-appreciated.
\r\n
\r\nFirstly, Johnson is off to a torrid start, hitting .338 while leading the team in home runs (5) and placing third in RBI (12) from the three hole in the order. Cooper Stadium is especially kind to Johnson where the ball seems to rocket off his bat to all points of the field. It was there on April 24th that Johnson recorded his second career two-homer game. When asked about his early season power surge, Johnson was quick to contribute it to his supporting cast.
\r\n
\r\n\"The hitting instructor...it was hard to get into a groove last year which is what I wanted to work on,\" offered Johnson. \"The coaches both in Spring Training and K-Long (hitting coach Kevin Long) have been great. They helped me get my timing and rhythm back to where I could feel comfortable. They showed me things that I had lost a feel for, that were there all along.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe added that his split time between Columbus and the Bronx may have attributed to his sporadic power and inconsistency. In 2004, Johnson popped 17 home runs, including the postseason, with the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League, further adding his value as a power hitting guardian of the hot corner.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always had power,\" said Johnson. \"I never felt like I didn't. When I've had the opportunity to get 400 at-bats in a season, I put up those kinds of numbers like I did in Iowa. I'll drive the ball with whatever they give me. I like the fastballs of course, but I make adjustments to whatever the pitcher is going to throw me.\"
\r\n
\r\nJohnson, barring an injury, will undoubtedly reach the 400 at-bat plateau and be relied upon as a major RBI contributor. But he does not feel the pressure to be the Clippers main run producer.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't feel it at all,\" explained Johnson. \"To me, it's like backyard ball, I try to swing hard and knock the guys in. No pressure except what you put on yourself. Sometimes there is success and other time failure. I know if I put a good swing on the ball, they'll drop and those RBIs will come.\"
\r\n
\r\nBeyond his current work on the field, it has been a long, testing career for the Louisiana native. Beginning in 1995 out of the Double-A Texas League, Johnson has spent the better half of a decade going back and forth between a multitude of minor and major league clubs including Houston and Tampa Bay, where he was recalled numerous times each, prior to last year's spot on the Yankee squad.
\r\n
\r\nTo his own admission, although refraining from the details, briefly walking away from the game after the 2002 season was one of the hardest decisions of his life. He felt he had to regain control his self-control, and when he did, he came back with a stronger resolve and a firmer grasp of what he hopes to accomplish. His past, however, does faze him as he holds an unwavering belief in himself.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to be in the big leagues,\" confessed Johnson. \"I walked away from the game in 2002 to get my life back in order, ever since then, I've never wanted to give up because baseball is what I do. The drive is to get back to the big leagues because I think its where I belong, so should everybody else that plays the game. I love the game, but its not number one in my life. I've got other priorities first, but its still my job and it's what I love to do and I don't really know how to do anything else.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs one of the few players on this Clippers team with extended Major League experience, it could be expected that younger players would look to Johnson as a leader; a voice that could detail what it takes to get to the next level. Yet, through his earthy Southern accent, Johnson explained that he does not see himself in such a role.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't feel that I have responsibility to be leader. I think it's part of my nature that I want to be a positive influence to guys because it's a game of failure and I try to encourage guys. You're going to have good and bad times. But I think success can be just as hard to handle as failure. First I think you got to learn how to fail, which for some younger guys can be difficult. But I believe in the guys I play with and this team altogether,\" Johnson detailed.
\r\n
\r\nThe badge of a baseball journeyman is earned through years of hard labor on the diamond, and for many, the returns may never justify the work. But Russ Johnson welcomes the exertion and the hard times, because to him, if it were not there, that is when his world would seem irregular.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest challenge is keeping a positive frame of mind and not lose my peace and believing that as long as I've got a uniform on, I've got a chance,\" Johnson concluded. \"I truly believe that I've had to fight and scrap. I wouldn't know what to do without controversy or without setback. To keep pushing on and not get down because of situations, that I think is the hardest thing to control.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a power stroke and a keen sense of what he desires, Johnson will surely earn one more justified crack at the Majors.
\r\n
\r\n_____________________________________________________
\r\n
\r\nSubscribe to PinstripesPlus.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on PinstripesPlus.com, Scout™ Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all Scout.com Websites, and Player Pages, detailing the progress and careers of players from high school, the minors, and the pro ranks.
\r\n
\r\nSample the PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at no risk for 7 days, then pay only $7.95 or $21.95. If you want to save 2 months off the monthly subscription price, simply choose the annual PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at $79.95.
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