Prospect Johnson adds yoga to training regimen

Prospect Johnson adds yoga to training regimen

CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson focused on improved flexibility in preparation for the 2015 season, a season that not only could mark Johnson's first Major League appearance with the White Sox but also his first as a big league starter at second base.

In order to reach that goal, Johnson decided to include hot yoga as one of his workouts. And he quickly discovered an important fact concerning his classmates.

"Those 50-year-old ladies are unbelievable," said Johnson with a laugh. "I stunk in flexibility. I was so stiff. So I got into hot yoga. I was doing the bridges and stuff, one-handed bridges. I was doing leg lifts. I was doing it all, so it got me real limber. That's all it is really. And core strength is huge in yoga too."

Johnson missed a 2014 September callup to the White Sox when his season was shut down in late August due to a left hamstring strain. That same hamstring issue hampered his explosiveness throughout a solid overall performance for Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, with his stolen base total dropping from 87 in 2013 to 22.

Yoga was a suggestion that came up for Johnson in talks with the White Sox, with his ultimate goal of staying as healthy as possible. Strength-wise, Johnson feels fine. Thanks to yoga, the flexibility in his hamstrings and hips have improved. It was a noticeable difference for the 24-year-old within the first three weeks of this particular workout.

"That first week is terrible," said Johnson of dealing with the heat. "It's hard but after a week or so you get used to it. It's crazy and it's quick. Nobody wants to stretch. Stretch while you are watching commercials."

"You do yoga, yoga is fun," he added. "We put on rap music in my yoga class. Obviously I'm not going to do any bridges during the game. But flexibility in hamstrings and hips are huge."

Although Johnson isn't connected to the spiritual part of yoga, he finds it refreshing and intends to continue on with the workout during the season.

"I've got the mat and everything," said a smiling Johnson.

Greater flexibility should also lead to easier movement in the field and improved range. But where Johnson's defense is concerned, it's more about mental consistency.

"Over the past two years I go through this moment where I'll space mentally and I'll just make a mistake and it's like 'Why? Why did I just do that?'" said Johnson, who is already in Arizona. "That's what I have been working on this offseason, just staying focused."

"It's like a form of ADD where I'll just lose thought and make a mistake," he said. "That can't happen at this level. I'll just go out there and work on every single scenario of ground balls."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.