Kelly Johnson enjoyed an off day at home in Atlanta on Thursday – even if he was pretty tired.
The Diamondbacks second baseman caught a red-eye flight from Arizona following Wednesday’s game. He wanted to see his wife, Lauren, and six-month old son, Cole, before opening a three-game series against his former Braves team at Turner Field on Friday. It was the first time he’d been home since leaving for spring training.
“It’s a little strange,” said Johnson, who spent his whole career with the Braves before signing with Arizona as a free agent this winter. “I live here in the offseason so that’s part of it too.”
Johnson became a free agent this winter after the Braves did not tender him a new contract after playing four major-league seasons with the team that drafted him.
“It’s the only place I had been in 10 years since being drafted,” Johnson said. “Everybody that I came up with, a lot of players have moved, but all the coaches that I played for were here. There is a lot of continuity in the Braves organization. That was harder more than anything, leaving somewhere you’d been for so long. At the end of it, the day [GM] Frank Wren told me I would not be tendered, it wasn’t like disappointment, like I was mad. It was more I understood and we’ll see what the date is and how many teams I hear from. I heard from a good number of teams so I felt good.”
Johnson selected Arizona for several reasons, he said. It offered him a chance to play a lot, at second base, for a team that was in the playoffs recently.
Johnson took to his new home immediately. He was named the Player of the Month for April when he hit .313 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games. His 10 home runs are tied for third in the majors. He credits a swing that is more “free and easy” and “not as forced” for his success. Still, the pop in his bat is, admittedly, a surprise.
“It’s hard to pinpoint anything,” Johnsons said. “I got in a good groove. I saw a lot of good pitches. We’ve got a good lineup. We were all banging. … It’s just a good streak and hopefully there will be more.”