On July 21, Chris Johnson said he wanted to be traded. The newest Cleveland Indian got his wish 17 days later.
The Braves sent Johnson and his hefty contract to the Indians on Friday for outfielders Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher and $10 million in cash.
“Just found out about 15-20 minutes ago,” Johnson said a few hours before first pitch. “I tell you what, it’s not as shocking as I thought. Everybody thought that something might happen, and it did. So obviously I’m excited to start fresh and go somewhere and try to help the team win.”
Johnson finished the 2013 season second in the National League with a .321 average — a career best by 40 points. He hit .263 last season, and his OPS dropped to a career-low .653. He hit .231/.256/.314 against right-handed pitchers.
This season he started 11 of the team’s 22 games in April and hit .279/.347/.372 with four doubles and five RBIs. But he missed 25 games in May with a broken hand and the Braves traded for Juan Uribe on May 26 — one day before Johnson got off the disabled list.
Johnson started 26 of the team’s 63 games since then entering Friday and hit .218/.239/.300 with two home runs and six RBIs in that span. His season average was .235 entering Friday.
With shoddy numbers and two years left on a three-year, $23.5 million contract, Johnson heard his name in trade talks quite often over the past few weeks.
“I have been pretty good over my career, no matter what happens outside the lines, as soon as the game starts I have the same mentality,” Johnson said. “I want to do good every time I step in the box. I want to help the team every time I’m on defense or on the bases. So … it’s not something I thought about during the games. But off the field definitely it’s something I’ve been thinking about, so it’s a little bit of a relief.”
After hugging it out with teammates and Braves staff, Johnson, donning a plain white T-shirt and black shorts, scooted out of the clubhouse on a mini-Segway — the same kind Shelby Miller rides, but in red.
“My time here was fun. I had a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “But (you’ve) got to move on some time.”
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