Micah Johnson is apparently close to a return from his left hamstring injury. He ran the bases yesterday and Knights manager Joel Skinner said the 23-year-old will be back "sooner than later". Update: he's off the DL today.
Johnson's return will make Charlotte's infield situation even more of a logjam, with Johnson, Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien and Tyler Saladino all vying for time in the middle infield and Matt Davidson taking most starts at third. One way they'll be alleviating some pressure is by having Semien play left field, which he did for the first time last night. The White Sox told him to get an outfielder's glove towards the end of his stay in Chicago and Skinner said the 23-year-old is "going to play shortstop, second, a little third, and a little left field."
Discussing the situation as a whole, Skinner said, "We need to rotate guys through and that does create logjams at times because everyone wants to play. That’s just the nature of where we are at. As a player, you need to take advantage of the time you get."
If I had to guess, I think you'll see Johnson playing the vast majority of the time at second. Davidson will play the vast majority of the time at third. Sanchez is probably the trickiest to fit into a rotation because he's the best defender and it would be silly to play him in the outfield (and there's no indication the White Sox have any plans for him to do so). He'll get a lot of the starts at shortstop but Semien needs to play there, too, and Saladino is also likely to get an occasional start. Sanchez will also be vying with Semien for the few starts leftover at second. The 21-year-old Venezuelan has seen an offensive surge of late, with three surprising home runs pushing the ordinarily popless Venezuelan's season line to .297/.367/.411 and nine swipes in 11 tries.
Saladino, of course, is the real loser in all of this. The 24-year-old has battled back into fringe prospect territory this season with a very good .310/.365/.498 line while swiping five bases in six chances and playing solid defense at shortstop. He'd already gotten a few starts in left field as a way to get him more playing time and now Semien is horning in on that. As the least prospecty of the bunch, he's the guy who'll give way to everyone else.
In other Knights news, Erik Johnson denies that his health or mechanics have anything to do with his...hmmm, I'm not sure I even have a word to aptly describe his 2014 performance, so let's go with non-performance. This denial came after his latest non-performance on Friday: 4 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 5 BB, 5 K. He supplied a non-sequitur to explain: "It could be mechanics; it could be a number of things going on out there," Johnson said after the game. "The things that I need to accomplish aren’t mechanical. It’s about throwing strikes; it’s about getting ahead and putting guys away." Okey dokey, Erik.