Thursday, April 24, 2008

So long Dan, we hardly knew ye

The locker that included a No. 26 jersey with the name “D. Johnson” on the back Tuesday afternoon, included a No. 26 jersey with the name “Gross” on the back Wednesday afternoon.

Elliot Johnson’s jersey contained his first initial Tuesday. It didn’t Wednesday.

Dan Johnson, we hardly knew ye.

If the Tampa Bay Rays ever hold an old timers day, will Dan Johnson be invited back? And if so, will be allowed to stay for the whole day or just the first hour?

Say this about the Dan Johnson Era, it was short, but it was successful.

The Rays never lost a game with Dan Johnson on the roster, making him the most successful player in team history.

Claimed off waivers last Friday, Johnson made it to Tropicana Field on Monday only to find the locker room empty and the batting cages locked. The team had already moved their operations to the Disney’s Wide World of Sports for their three-game, let’s find some fans in Central Florida series with Toronto.

Johnson, his wife and two kids headed to Lake Buena Vista and checked into the team hotel. He officially joined the Rays on Tuesday, met his new teammates and charmed the press with his story of paying for a time in an Oakland-area indoor batting cage while he waited to get picked up by a team after the Athletics designated him for assignment two weeks ago.

A left-handed hitting first baseman with some pop in his bat, Johnson watched the Rays beat the Jays from the bench.

On Wednesday, he was gone, designated for assignment to make room for Gabe Gross, whom the Rays acquired from Milwaukee in a trade Tuesday afternoon.

Johnson was insurance if Carlos Pena’s right hamstring injury was sever enough to land the first baseman on the disabled list. It was not.

And Gross was a player the Rays were trying to acquire since it was obvious Rocco Baldelli and Cliff Floyd were never going to fit into their plans for right field.
So, bye-bye D. Johnson.

Will he even put his time with the Rays on his resume?

Seems like a waste of a line on the back of a baseball card.

We do know this: D. Johnson will certainly not be wearing a Rays cap on his plaque should his career take off and he find himself elected to the hall of fame.

The Rays were good sports and allowed Johnson and his family to remain in Disney for a few days. That the least they can do after making him drag his family cross country for a job that didn’t exist.

So the Rays took on the Blue Jays on Wednesday night without D. Johnson on the bench and still won. And D. Johnson presumably took the family to the theme parks on the Rays dime where he surely learned that the wait to ride Pirates of the Caribbean lasted longer than his career with the Rays.

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