ST. PETERSBURG -- Elliot Johnson has nine stolen bases in 40 games this season after stealing just six in his previous 77 games.
Though Johnson had not had much success stealing bases at the Major League level, he swiped 196 in 878 Minor League games. He entered Friday night's series opener against the Orioles tied for fifth in the American League in steals.
Johnson has appeared in 31 of the last 32 games, including 25 starts, which has helped facilitate his success on the basepaths.
"I think when you don't get out there very much -- and it's not just about playing -- if you're not getting on base, or getting into opportunities where you steal bases, you kind of get a little bit timid," Johnson said. "And you know you don't get that good jump you're used to getting. You don't really have that ... I don't want to [say] killer instinct. It's almost restlessness, where if you get too timid out there, you're going to get a bad jump every time."
Johnson talked about the aggressiveness of Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton.
"They get great jumps every time," he said. "But if you're timid, you're just going to get thrown out. I think when you find a little bit of success, it kind of breeds that confidence that you can make it every time. It's almost an arrogant type of feeling, where they're not going to get me if I get a good jump."
Manager Joe Maddon also believes that consistent play has led to Johnson's success.
"I think, as a base-stealer, you're always more comfortable when you get on base more often," Maddon said. "You get some really good base-stealers that go through slumps, and when they get out there, they get thrown out a lot because they're not out there often enough. So by playing on a more consistent basis and having more opportunity, if you have that kind of speed and it's in your cache of ability, you're going to steal more bases under those circumstances.
"So I think it's a combination of all those things. Opportunity, [plus] the fact that he's been hitting well, accepting his walks and getting on base more often ... [His] confidence is up, thus you're going to see more stolen bases."