Saturday, December 02, 2006

Jay Payton Spotlights Dan Johnson, Daric Barton

The Athletics decision not to resign Jay Payton sets up a showdown between incumbent first baseman Dan Johnson, and prospect Daric Barton -- but not until mid-season at the earliest, more likely '08. With Payton looking to catch elsewhere, expect Nick Swisher to move to the outfield full time and leave Johnson with one more shot at winning the starter's job at first base. Johnson, who has hit for power and average in the minors, had a disappointing season last year despite an extended look. He'll be watched closely this spring, as will Barton. Barton currently is tearing up the Dominican winter league, but at just 22 likely will be held back for fear of rushing him.