I wrote last week about Dan Johnson, the former Blaine High standout and 10-year MLB veteran first baseman trying to work his way back to the big leagues as a knuckleball pitcher with the Saints.
On Monday, Johnson made it at least part of the way toward his goal: the Dodgers purchased his contract and assigned him to Class AA Tulsa.
With the Saints, Johnson is 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA — with that last number taking a big hit after a rough recent outing. In his three previous starts, Johnson had allowed just one earned run combined in 18.2 innings. He’s also clubbed six homers in 18 games of fill-in duty as a hitter for the Saints.
When I interviewed Johnson for the story, he said several organizations were tracking his progress, and that he hoped his sudden versatility as a guy who could pinch hit or work in long relief while also making a spot start at first base or on the mound would make him attractive to teams.
“I wouldn’t just do this to do it,” Johnson said. “I know what it takes, and I know what I have to do.”
Class AA is still a couple of levels away from the majors. But with rosters expanding in September, you never know. Johnson has a flair for the dramatic, having hit memorable home runs for Tampa Bay in the past. A guy who can eat up innings and hit a home run might be a nice commodity in a tight playoff race, which is exactly where the Dodgers find themselves.