Johnson working on regaining old form

Third baseman makes mechanical adjustment to improve on tough 2014 season

Johnson working on regaining old form

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Chris Johnson attempts to distance himself from last year's frustrations and regain the consistency when he battled for a batting title in 2013, he has opted to make a mechanical adjustment during the first week of Spring Training.

Per the advice provided by Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Johnson has dropped the pre-swing placement of his hands from eye level to slightly below his right shoulder. The hope is that the adjustment will allow him to lose the loop in his swing and gain a more consistent direct swing path.

"It just makes me more direct and gives me more time to recognize pitches," Johnson said. "I'm getting comfortable in the cage and now I just have to hope I can take it into games. There might be an adjustment period during games, but that is why we're here."

Outlook: Johnson, 3B, ATL

Johnson has a little more than five weeks to gain comfort with this mechanical adjustment that he made just last week. Some players might be apprehensive to make this kind of adjustment this close to the regular season.

But while working with Seitzer in January and again over the course of the past couple of weeks, Johnson has gained confidence in the advice provided by his new hitting coach, who filled the void that was created when Greg Walker resigned from his position as Atlanta's hitting coach at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

"There's a little bit different approach and a little different terminology," Johnson said. "Anytime you've heard something for a while and then hear something new, sometimes it just gives you that little light bulb."

Johnson finished second in the National League batting race when he hit .321 with 12 home runs and a .816 OPS in 2013. But when he admittedly attempted to generate more power last year, he batted just .263 with a .653 OPS (the lowest mark for all qualified National League third basemen).

Given that Johnson batted .395 against left-handed pitchers and .235 against right-handers last year, the Braves are contemplating using him in a platoon role this upcoming season. But at the same time, the club understands the value he could bring to its suspect offense if he can at least be somewhere between where he was the past two seasons.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.