Elliot Johnson has always had the ability to steal bases, swiping 18 bags in 123 games for Tampa Bay last season. But Johnson probably wasn’t expected to lead the Royals’ in stolen bases after being the final piece in a blockbuster offseason trade that also brought James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
But that’s where Johnson is, a perfect 11 for 11 on stolen-base attempts this season. And those numbers should have an opportunity to increase as Johnson takes over primary duty at second base with Chris Getz’s recent demotion to Class AAA Omaha.
“I’m not gonna approach it any differently,” Johnson said of the added playing time. “I’m gonna be the same exact guy; expectations are going to be exactly the same for me, just show up and help the team win.”
Royals manager Ned Yost confirmed that Johnson would be getting a majority of the time at second base, although veteran Miguel Tejada is also likely to get some starts at the position.
It will be a rare dose of consistent playing time for Johnson, 29, who debuted with Tampa Bay in 2008. Johnson enters Tuesday’s series opener against Atlanta batting .239 with two homers and two doubles in 49 games this season. Last season, Johnson batted .242 while playing in a career-high 123 games. The utility duty included just 80 starts. He played in 70 games in 2011.
“For the most part,” Johnson said, “I feel like I’ve showed up everyday and I’m helping the team with my glove one way or the other, even if I’m not getting any hits on that particular day.”
First time at the K
The arrival of season-long interleague play — created by Houston’s move to the American League — will provide a late June treat at Kauffman Stadium. The Atlanta Braves will play at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in history when the two teams begin a two-game set on Tuesday night. The Braves, 44-33, enter the series in first place in the NL East after going 5-5 in their last 10 games.
The first 10,000 fans at Tuesday’s game will receive a blue “Big Game James” T-shirt, an ode to Royals starter James Shields, who started Sunday’s game against the White Sox and drew a no-decision.
• Center fielder Bubba Starling, the Royals’ first-round pick in 2011, entered Monday on a five-game hitting streak, piling up 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats. Starling, who struggled during the season’s first half, has raised his averaged to .222 with seven homers in 64 games at low-Class A Lexington.
• Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, one of the Royals’ top hitting prospects, entered Monday batting .150 (six for 38) since being promoted from Class A Wilmington to Class AA Northwest Arkansas.