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06/14/05 12:00 PM ET

Johnson aims for All-Star nod

Young slugger enjoys breakout season for Nats

WASHINGTON -- Prior to the 2005 season, people wondered whether or not Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson would ever reach his potential, and for good reason. Johnson found himself missing a significant amount of time because of injuries the last five years.

This season, Johnson is healthy and having a breakout season. Entering Tuesday's action, he is hitting .335 with eight home runs and a team-leading 38 RBIs. He is in the top 10 in 11 offensive categories in the National League. In fact, as recently as last week, Johnson was named the co-NL Player of the week.

Johnson also is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game. It seems like every game he is making a diving play to his left.

All the more reason Johnson should be considered for the NL All-Star team this summer. The All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit, and there is still time to send Johnson to the Midsummer Classic.

Fans can cast votes for Johnson by going to MLB.com or by attending a game at any Major League park. In the third round of balloting, Johnson was not listed among the top five vote-getters for NL first baseman.

"I'm not surprised [that Johnson is consistently good] because he came with that label," manager Frank Robinson said recently. "I think we were too quick to judge Nick Johnson last year because he didn't stay in the lineup very long. I think we just started thinking about the injuries rather than the talent. He is healthy this year and he has been healthy since Spring Training."

Health isn't the only reason Johnson is having a good year. He made some adjustments at the plate. Johnson is no longer vulnerable to inside pitches.

"I feel I'm waiting longer on pitches at the plate instead of just jumping on the ball. It's just a battle every day. It's a grind," Johnson said. "I just do my work and my drills in batting practice and try to bring it into the game."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.