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Micah Johnson makes first move in battle for second base

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Plus: Tyler Danish's new pitch is an old favorite

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

It took nearly a week to get started, but the Thunderdome at second base is finally starting to resemble a battle, and Micah Johnson landed the first combo.

After hitting the game-tying homer in the ninth inning of the White Sox's 3-3 draw against the Diamondbacks on Monday, Johnson had a perfect day at the plate in a 6-2 victory against the Royals. His 4-for-4 day included:

  • A double past Mike Moustakas, off Jeremy Guthrie
  • A lined single to right off Greg Holland
  • An infield single to the left side off Jason Frasor
  • An RBI single to left off Brandon Finnegan

And apparently he put on a show defensively, too:

In the field, Johnson displayed range by making a backhand grab behind the bag, making a glove flip to shortstop for a force out. He almost topped that play going airborne on an attempted diving catch to his right on a Mike Moustakas liner in short right (against a shift) that popped out of his glove when he hit the ground.

Sounds like it might've been a variation of a play he made last year:

Along with the highlight-worthy plays (or attempts), Johnson also has a "0" in his error column. Oddly, he was thrown out in his only stolen-base attempt for his only real statistical blemish.

Carlos Sanchez is picking up the pace as well, but he's a comfortable second after one week of Cactus League games in the books, with Gordon Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio trailing:

PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS BA OBP SLG E
Johnson 16 7 1 1 1 3 2 4 0 1 .500 .563 .929 0
Sanchez 11 3 0 0 0 2 0 3 0 0 .273 .273 .273 1
Beckham 15 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 .077 .200 .077 0
Bonifacio 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 .000 .100 .000 0

Star-divide

Also a first for spring training: Tyler Danish pitch data.

Keeping with Robin Ventura's habit of shielding starters against divisional foes, Danish started Tuesday's game against Kansas City with John Danks pitching in a "B" game.

Danish allowed two runs on three hits and a plunked batter over 2⅓ innings. On the plus side, he didn't walk a batter, he shook off a leadoff homer by Jarrod Dyson, and he recorded his first strikeout via ....

... wait for it ...

"I was down in the zone a lot," Danish said. "That’s the big thing me and (pitching coach Don Cooper) talked about even in the offseason in the four or five phone calls we had, throw the fastball to both sides of the plate. Then we move on to the offspeed in the zone, with all four. Today I broke out that new slider. Struck (Alex) Rios out on it and got a swing and miss from (Lorenzo) Cain. Couldn’t be happier with that.

"Slider or cutter, couldn’t tell you the difference but it’s way faster, about 4 or 5 miles per hour faster than the slurve with a harder break. Coop calls it a cutter, we’re not worried about the names."

Here's what that cutter/slider looks like on BrooksBaseball.com:

Pitch Type Velo (Max) H-Break V-Break Count Strikes / % Swings / % Whiffs / % BIP (No Out) SNIPs / %
FA (Fastball) 88.9 (88.9) -7.42 1.54 1 1 / 100.0% 1 / 100.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 (0) 1 / 100.0%
FT (Two-seam Fastball) 90.4 (91.0) -9.27 3.41 5 4 / 80.0% 2 / 40.0% 0 / 0.0% 1 (1) 3 / 75.0%
FF (Four-seam Fastball) 90.2 (91.7) -7.70 4.69 12 8 / 66.7% 6 / 50.0% 1 / 8.3% 4 (1) 4 / 50.0%
CH (Changeup) 79.5 (81.8) -7.69 -1.10 6 2 / 33.3% 2 / 33.3% 0 / 0.0% 2 (0) 0 / 0.0%
SL (Slider) 80.6 (83.4) 4.65 1.21 5 4 / 80.0% 4 / 80.0% 3 / 60.0% 1 (1) 3 / 75.0%