Saturday, March 10, 2007

A's Still Have Confidence Issues with Dan Johnson

Athletics manager Bob Geren's decision to continue using outfielder Nick Swisher part-time at first base hardly reflects panic but indicates at least some uneasiness as to whether Dan Johnson will ever take possession of the position.

That Johnson is hitting only .133 in a handful of Cactus League at-bats is not especially meaningful unless one compares it with his performance last year, when Johnson hit only .234 to mystify scouts who project him to become a big-time hitter, especially now that he has reached what should be his prime at 27.

It's early, but so far Johnson continues to disappoint, even being overshadowed by up-and-coming Daric Barton, 21, a former catcher being converted to first baseman, who is hitting .400 in a handful of at-bats. If Johnson is on some sleeper lists that's fine, just as long as it's a sleep from which he will awaken, and soon.

With center fielder Bobby Kielty sidelined for six weeks or more with back trouble, Swisher more than ever will be needed in the outfield, leaving Johnson with no better opportunity to finally show his stuff.