John­son ready to lead In­di­ans into play­offs


Swift Cur­rent In­di­ans out­fielder Josh John­son has been on the move ever since he ar­rived in Swift Cur­rent. The Tampa, Florida na­tive cur­rently leads the Western Ma­jor Base­ball League with 30 stolen bases in just 37 games.

If the 5’10’’, 195-pound speed­ster reaches first base – and he does of­ten con­sid­er­ing he sits third in the league with a .381 av­er­age – it is a good bet that he won’t be there long.

Not sur­pris­ingly, John­son also leads the WMBL in runs scored with 42 and his Bethune-Cook­man Univer­sity Wild­cats team­mate Eros Mo­dena led the league with 42 runs bat­ted in af­ter the week­end.

“I am try­ing to get on base and get my­self over. [Matt] Spill­man does a great job of let­ting me ad­vance on the bases. I just try to get Eros his RBI’s and score some runs early. Early runs are the most im­por­tant be­cause that is where you get all your mo­men­tum from. That’s my role is try­ing to get some mo­men­tum early,” ex­plained John­son af­ter Sun­day’s win over Medicine Hat.

“When he gets on base we score runs, that’s the bot­tom line,” said man­ager Joe Car­na­han. “His speed is a game changer. When he gets on base it opens up a lot of holes and gives guys some op­por­tu­nity to drive him in.”

John­son said that a lit­tle more than just speed is in­volved in swip­ing that many bases.

“Nik (Gumme­son) does a good job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with us. He gets the speed guys to­gether and says ‘Hey I picked up on hey he shakes his leg be­fore he goes home.’ So there is a lit­tle bit of strat­egy be­hind it of course. I mean speed def­i­nitely helps be­cause if I get a bad jump I can make up for a lit­tle bit. The fast guys com­mu­ni­cate with each other and then Nik helps us out from the third base box. He calls good times to steal bases. It is pitch calling, tech­nique, and a lit­tle speed.”

Car­na­han said that John­son brings a unique skill set to the In­di­ans.

“We have had guys that have been fast, ob­vi­ously not as fast as him, but as far as a base stealer, I can’t re­mem­ber hav­ing one, even when I was play­ing, that we have had one like this up here. I mean shoot, he broke the team record in stolen bases half­way through the sea­son. He is what you want for a lead­off guy.”

John­son said he al­ways has the green light to steal when he is on base and he still had his eye on one more record with three games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“Yeah, Joe texted me when I was in col­lege and said, ‘Hey, the league record is 36, if you don’t break that I am go­ing to be up­set.’ That is what I plan to do. That’s my job.”

The In­di­ans have had their share of ups and downs this sea­son, il­lus­trated by a re­cent eightgame win­ning streak, fol­lowed di­rectly by a fiveg­ame los­ing streak.

“Some­time the base­ball gods are on our side and some­times they are not,” said John­son. “We hit the ball hard and even though we were los­ing we were still hit­ting the ball hard and they just weren’t drop­ping. I think some­times it just doesn’t fall our way. But we are a re­ally good team and when we are rolling I think we can beat any­one.”

Car­na­han be­lieves that John­son’s game-chang­ing speed will be even more im­por­tant in the play­offs when the games get closer and the team faces bet­ter pitch­ing.

“When you have speed you can get three hits with­out even hit­ting the ball hard. All of sud­den you hit a cou­ple of chop­pers and you are stand­ing on first base be­cause you legged it out. Speed is one of those things that is some­thing that you can’t teach and if you have a guy that has that it is quite the as­set,” said Car­na­han.

Photo by Steven Mah

Out­fielder Josh John­son has been the ideal lead­off man for the Swift Cur­rent In­di­ans this sea­son, lead­ing the league with 42 runs and 30 stolen bases in 37 games.

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