A month into his major league career, Micah Johnson is getting to get back to being himself.
The rookie second baseman went 3-for-4 and sparked the White Sox four-run, game-winning rally with two out in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 7-6 win over Detroit. He’s not where he wants to be just yet, but with a .343 on-base percentage and good speed from the No. 9 spot in the order, the White Sox are pleased with his development so far.
“I’ve been working a lot lately getting back to that and getting back to my approach that got me here,” Johnson said. “It’s always going to be a work in progress.”
Hitting coach Todd Steverson has seen Johnson have better timing lately, which has been an issue this season given Johnson’s swing doesn’t contain many moving parts. As Johnson has adjusted to the major league game — the routine, the information and the quality of pitching — his timing hasn’t always been there.
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Steverson has worked with Johnson on getting a subtle timing mechanism into his swing as he gathers his hands, though mostly that’s been used during batting practice and cage work. It’s minor tweaks like that Steverson said Johnson has been receptive to, even as he does try to get back to the approach that led him to a .366 on-base percentage over three minor league seasons.
“You stay here because of X,” Steverson said. “You’re here because you did something well, but this is how you stay here, and you need to level that out.”
Manager Robin Ventura said one of the bigger adjustments Johnson’s had to make is learning how to not lead off a game and instead wait two or three innings for his first at-bat. There’s a certain patience that’s necessary with hitting ninth, Ventura said, that the aggressive second baseman has had to learn.
“Once it gets there then he can turn into a leadoff hitter,” Ventura said. “I think that’s really the beauty of him once he gets there, he does bring energy to that spot, and then you saw last night of getting on base and he can create some havoc when he gets out there."