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Johnson signing provides options for Tampa Bay Rays

Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM

The Tampa Bay Rays, according to Fox Sports, signed free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson on Monday to a one-year deal.

The team, in keeping with its policy to not comment on trades or free agent signings until the transaction is complete, did not comment.

If the transaction goes through, it would add to the glut of middle infielders currently on the roster. Johnson would join Ryan Roberts, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac, not to mention Ben Zobrist, who is expected to move between second base and the outfield.

Or, the addition of Johnson, a left-handed hitter, could mean he will platoon with the right-handed hitting Roberts and send Zobrist to the outfield on a fulltime basis. That would solve the Rays need for another outfielder.

The Rays do have to send someone to Kansas City as the player to be named later to complete the December trade that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals.

The Rays also have to clear two spots on the 40-man roster to accommodate reliever Kyle Farnsworth and designated hitter Luke Scott, both of whom agreed to terms last week on one-year deals.

Johnson, 30, is a seven-year veteran with a career .255 batting average, .388 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage. His numbers were .225/.313/.365 last season with the Toronto Blue Jays when he hit 16 home runs but struck out 159 times in 507 at-bats.

"He's a quiet guy. Good guy. Good person. I think he can hit for average and power, take walks. He can steal bases. I think he's going to fit in the way the Rays like it," said Rays catcher Jose Molina, who played with Johnson in Toronto in 2011 after Johnson was traded to the Blue Jays on Aug. 23 from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Johnson could also see time in the outfield. He played 79 games in left field for the Atlanta Braves in 2005.


C Robinson Chirinos, who missed all of 2012 after suffering a concussion in spring training, was one of 12 Rays who worked out Monday at Tropicana Field. "Thank God, everything is fine," Chirinos said. He played in the Instructional League in October and played 30 games of winter ball in his native Venezuela. Chirinos sustained the concussion when he was hit in the mask with a foul tip. "I got hit (in the mask) a lot of times," he said of his time in Venezuela. "Everything was good." … RF Matt Joyce spent part of his offseason watching tapes of Jose Bautista, Ken Griffey Jr., and Barry Bonds swinging in an effort to improve his swing. … Molina said the chance to play for his native Puerto Rico and with his younger brother, Yadier, was all the incentive he needed to play in the World Baseball Classic.

rmooney@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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