Johnson leaves game with leg cramps
Braves second baseman in midst of prolonged slump
ATLANTA -- While drawing two consecutive walks during Monday night's game against the Cubs at Turner Field, Kelly Johnson provided reason to believe he had at least regained the discipline that will help him end his recent offensive woes.
But Johnson might have to wait at least one more day to realize if he's going to start seeing better results. He was forced to leave Monday's game when he experienced cramping in both legs while running to third base on Chipper Jones' fifth-inning double. The Braves announced his status as day-to-day.
While assessing Johnson's inability to avoid extended slumps, Braves manager Bobby Cox and hitting coach Terry Pendleton have regularly said that the 27-year-old second baseman often pushes himself too hard with extra work in the batting cage.
As Johnson currently endures what he considers to be the most frustrating offensive dry spell of his professional career, he has come to realize that there might be some validity to this belief.
After experiencing a rough nine-game stretch that began on May 12, Johnson hit .342 with two homers and seven doubles in the final 38 at-bats he recorded in May. But instead of signaling the start of a promising stretch, this eight-game stretch only provided him more reason to be frustrated with the futility that he's realized this month.
"I had a real good thing going and I wasn't able to keep myself out of the [batting] cage and out of my own mind," Johnson said.
As Johnson continued to take extra batting practice during the final days of May, he believes he might have worked himself out of the groove that he found. Whatever the case, he's found himself feeling lost while hitting .148 with a .232 on-base percentage and .197 slugging percentage through the first 17 games that he's played this month.
Even with his promising stretch at the end of May, Johnson entered Monday having hit .212 with a .630 OPS in his previous 32 games.
"I've had plenty of bad slumps since I started playing professional baseball," Johnson said. "I've had stretches where I've felt like I was the worst player in the game. But I just haven't had slumps of this length."
Because he currently feels lost at the plate, Johnson understands that he needs to spend the extra time in the cage. But once he regains a feel for his swing and his timing, he plans to take the same approach that he did during the final month of the 2008 season.
While hitting .398 with a .429 on-base percentage and .643 slugging percentage last September, Johnson limited his time in the batting cage to what essentially amounted to warmup swings. In addition, he rarely took swings during pregame batting practice sessions on the field.
"When I get something going again, I'm going to do everything that I can to make sure that I'm able to keep it going," Johnson said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.