Johnson a welcome addition for Braves

Johnson a welcome addition for Braves

Johnson a welcome addition for Braves
ATLANTA -- Outfielder Reed Johnson was halfway to home plate at Wrigley Field on Monday night, ready to take his second at-bat in the Cubs' nine-run fifth inning against the Pirates. But before he could dig into the batter's box, he was called back to the dugout.

Johnson and his teammate, left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm, had been traded to the Braves for right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Johnson, 35, has been in professional baseball for 12 years, but had never been traded. Still, he had an inkling a trade was in the works.

"This time of year when you get yanked off the field like that you know something's going on," Johnson said. "I didn't know where I was going. I had no idea."

Once Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer met with Johnson to tell him he and Maholm were headed to Atlanta, Johnson said he was excited to join his new teammates in a pennant race.

"I know they've got a good group of guys, and it's always exciting to come over to a group like that," Johnson said. "It's not only a good group of guys, it's a good group of guys that's only a few games out of first place as well."

Johnson arrived in Atlanta around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after a whirlwind day that began with his meeting with Hoyer. Johnson said he packed quickly, partly because much of his equipment was Cubbie blue and wouldn't fit in with the Braves navy blue and red color scheme. Johnson packed his glove and his bat bag and, after arriving at Turner Field, borrowed a pair of black cleats from second baseman Dan Uggla, who happens to wear the same size shoes.

The Braves are happy to see Johnson, no matter how much luggage he brought. Johnson is hitting .302 with a .799 OPS. He will provide a right-handed bat off the bench and serve the role of fourth outfielder. He can play all three outfield positions, giving Atlanta more options when it wants to give center fielder Michal Bourn a day off.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he hopes to get Johnson's Braves career started quickly and plans to start him on Wednesday against left-hander Wade LeBlanc.

"I'm going to run him in there tomorrow someplace," Gonzalez said. "Whether it's center field or right field, we'll get him in there and let him be a Brave real quick -- if he doesn't pinch-hit tonight."

Johnson is a valuable pinch-hitter. As a pinch-hitter, he is hitting .448 with a .586 slugging percentage this year. With outfielder Matt Diaz on the 15-day disabled list with a right-thumb contusion, the Braves' right-handed options off the bench have been limited.

Eric Hinske, another member of the Braves bench, played with Johnson for four years in Toronto, and compared his style of play to left fielder Martin Prado.

"He wants to get his uniform as dirty as quick as he can," Hinske said. "He's a great piece to have on your team.

"He's a welcome addition."