If you were paying attention to the Cardinals broadcast today you heard Al Hrabosky mention that former Cardinals’ first baseman Dan Johnson will be back with the Tampa Bay Rays this season, the team he spent parts of the 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons playing first base for. However, the Rays have not signed Johnson to be a first baseman. Instead, Johnson has signed to be a kuckleball pitcher.
Dan and Al mentioned on the telecast that often times infielders are the best at throwing the kncukleball. This is an interesting choice for the 36 year old, but it is apparently pretty serious, as the Rays have signed Charlie Haeger to work with Johnson and another knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune . While I see the reasoning for it (he can’t hit major league pitching) it just is an interesting move for a 36 year old to make.
I will definitely be keeping my eye on him this season, it is probably going to take some time for him to get used to pitching, so he may take a while to get up to the major leagues. The interesting thing is that Johnson is said to have had minor league offers to be a first baseman/DH according to Mooney. Mooney mentions that Rays actually had the interest in Johnson as a pitcher and it wasn’t Johnson who had to convince them.
Mooney mentioned that Johsnon said he was willing to play in the low minors to become a pitcher because “what else am I going to do”. This is a pretty funny quote, and it will be interesting to see if he can make it up to the majors.
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