5/28/2013 2:35 P.M. ET
Vet R. Johnson attributes career longevity to hard work
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The two-game set in Toronto on Monday and Tuesday was a homecoming for outfielder Reed Johnson.
The 11-year veteran spent his first five seasons in Toronto and was in the Blue Jays' organization for nine years total.
"It's good," said Johnson of being back at Rogers Centre. "I feel like coming back here in 2008, same year I got released with the Chicago Cubs, I got a pretty good reception then. It kind of lets you know how the fans really felt about you.
"I think any player will tell you that the organization they break in with and get an opportunity with is always going to special to them. If I don't break in here, I don't get that opportunity, and who knows what I'd be doing."
Johnson is now with his fourth team after joining the Braves in the middle of 2012 in a trade from the Cubs, and he re-signed with Atlanta for the 2013 season.
The scrappy veteran has seen more than 3,300 at-bats in the Majors, and he admits that there's a secret to his longevity.
"Just grinding every day," Johnson said. "Proving to teams that you can play on both sides of the ball, I think that's what's really helped me out. The years where you don't have great offensive years, you're going out there and helping your team out on defense."
Johnson has found himself in more than half of Atlanta's games so far this season, and he credits his workman-like attitude to finding a way to contribute on both sides of the ball.
"It's just kind of how I've always been," Johnson said. "From Little League to high school to college, it's always been the same for me. ... I really only know one speed, and that's the only way I can do it.
"Playing the game hard, but playing the game smart."
Infielder C. Johnson sizzling at the plate
TORONTO -- After a little lull to begin the month of May, Chris Johnson has really found his stroke of late.
Entering Tuesday, Johnson had four multihit games in the last nine contests, and he went 14-for-28 (.500) over that stretch, including a home run, five RBIs and three runs scored.
"I feel good. I feel calm," Johnson said. "Just trying to get a good pitch and not do too much with it, and it seems to be working.
"The first step is making sure you're comfortable when you step up to the plate. I've been able to stay there for a little while right now, and things are going well."
Johnson split duties between the Astros and Diamondbacks in 2012, so part of that comfort comes from spending the whole season, including Spring Training, with one team. But more of it has to do with understanding who he is as a hitter and becoming familiar with the pitchers he's facing.
"I've been in the league a little while now, and I'm starting to figure myself out," said Johnson, who's in his fourth season in the Majors. "[I'm starting to] figure some pitchers out."
For the 28-year-old, it's not something that just clicked one day, but more of a gradual process of adapting to the highest level.
Johnson is in a soft-platoon situation at third base with Juan Francisco, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez, which means that when the skipper chooses to play each is based on his discretion, as opposed to a concrete rule such as whether the opposing pitcher is a righty or a lefty.
"He's a good player," Gonzalez said of Johnson. "He's able to come off the bench at times and platoon. …You feel comfortable running him in there against right-handed pitchers, and he'll do fine."
Despite the platoon, Johnson is hitting more than 100 points higher than Francisco (.245) entering Tuesday's game, and he has seen his fair share of playing time at the hot corner.
"I think that'll take care of itself, I really do," Gonzalez said of Johnson's playing time. "The guys that are hitting usually find themselves in the lineup more often."
Upton gets scheduled rest Tuesday
TORONTO -- Justin Upton sat for only the third time this season Tuesday in Toronto.
His absence from the lineup was merely a way to find some rest for the young outfielder as the club endures a stretch of 20 games between off-days.
"Just give him some rest," said manager Fredi Gonzalez of the scheduled day off. "Jason [Heyward] sat yesterday, and Justin will sit out today. We're in the start of 20 games in a row, doubleheader in there some place, so got to give him a break."
It also helps that it's a day game after a night game.
After a scorching April where Upton hit 12 home runs, the younger brother of B.J. has only two home runs in May, and he is hitting only .205 in his last 10 games.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.