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Dan Johnson Stuck Around 'Til He Couldn't See Straight
2007-02-09 15:42
by Ryan Armbrust

I've never tried to hide the fact that Dan Johnson is my favorite player. I watched him smack the ball all over the lime-green astroturf of Buck Beltzer Field as a Husker and set Nebraska records for home runs and slugging. I followed him through the A's system, and even went to a couple AAA games when the RiverCats came to Omaha. In 2005, I got caught up in the Dan Johnson hype, and almost believed that he deserved to win the Topps All-Rookie Team first-baseman's spot over the incredible force that is Ryan Howard. Almost.

2006 was nothing short of horrible, though. Last season was rough on him as a player, and it wasn't easy on me as a fan. He endured an epic slump to begin the year, seemed to recover, and then went into a tailspin by midsummer. Johnson had to endure the shame of playing in the game where his RiverCat bobblehead was given out, emphasizing his fall from The Show.

Not all is doom and gloom for Johnson, though. Sure, the glut of outfielders in Oakland's camp suggests that Nick Swisher will force Johnson out of a job at first base. He can't even DH, since the A's once again have a reclamation project filling that spot. Johnson could look past all of that, though, and see his way into the lineup. Quite literally.

Last year Johnson had some trouble with his eyes. They were dry all the time, and he was having trouble seeing the ball in, which doomed him from the get-go. Of course, Gerald Perry didn't seem to know what to do with Johnson, but that's another story.

According to Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle, Dan Johnson suffered from the affliction made famous by Foreigner. Double vision.

Johnson's season-long trouble with dry eyes was discovered to be far more serious: The A's first baseman also had developed double vision, according to a group of specialists in Mesa, Ariz., that Johnson's agent found.

One of the prescriptions Johnson was given during the season apparently caused the double vision, the specialists said. Johnson just thought his vision was blurry, and that complicated the diagnosis, because "my perception of what was wrong was wrong."

Johnson has been undergoing intensive eye therapy and, he said, "There were dramatic results right away. It's night and day.''

While there is still the distinct possibility that, dare I say it, Dan Johnson is a AAAA-type player, he could still return to the form that saw him hitting over .300 with power for much of 2005. If so, I'm much more comfortable with a four-man rotation in the outfield of Swisher, Kotsay, Bradley and Stewart, as opposed to relying on Kotsay and Stewart to stay healthy for 140+ games.

Feeling down n dirty, feeling kinda mean
Ive been from one to another extreme
This time I had a good time, aint got time to wait
I wanna stick around till I cant see straight

Fill my eyes with that double vision, no disguise for that double vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me, its always new to me
My double vision gets the best of me

2007-02-10 11:52:25
1.   drodd1039
If you are interested, I put together a page with A's news feeds from the top Oakland newspapers, blogs, and sports sites.

2007-02-11 18:53:22
2.   salb918
I would very much like to believe that Dan Johnson's troubles were related to his vision, but I have a hard time reconciling that with the fact that his performance at AAA was as dominant as ever last year.

But I'm squarely in your corner that, whatever the issue, I hope that Dan Johnson finds it in his heart to hit 260/350/480. Pretty please?

2007-02-12 16:39:47
3.   photogirl
Didn't DJ have a bad bout with vertigo the previous year? Perhaps he needs to visit his local neurologist. I would love to see him back in full health!

Kerry :-)

2007-02-12 19:25:42
4.   MrIncognito
The Pastime has Johnson's weighted mean projection listed at .268/.357/.447. Whatever qualitative factors went into his poor showing last season, the numbers suggest he'll be at least solid at the plate.

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