USA Today Sports

Brian Johnson: 'It just kind of feels like the stars are aligning'

Rob Bradford
March 13, 2018 - 1:41 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brian Johnson dominated a group primarily made up of Single-A hitters Tuesday on Field 2 at Fenway South, striking out 10 of the 17 batters he faced (8 swinging). But that wasn't the biggest takeaway from the lefty's day. It's what he said moments after the tune-up that truly stood out.

"It’s always a running joke even with my buddies at home that if anything bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen to me. I think Dane Cook actually did a thing on ‘Bad Luck Brian’ or something. It’s along those lines. It just kind of feels like the stars are aligning," said the lefty hurler. "I’m excited. Baseball is fun. That’s the biggest thing. At one point in time, it wasn’t fun. It was a drag coming to the field. I’m excited to come to the field every day."

The days of baseball not being fun for Johnson have been well-documented.

He was hit in the face with a baseball in his first year of pro ball. He has battled elbow issues. There was a car-jacking. And, of course, the months missed due to anxiety issues in 2016.

Now, with just more than two months left in spring training, Johnson has found that light at the end of the tunnel. He is seemingly on the verge of making the Red Sox' Opening Day roster as a member of the team's starting rotation.

"I would say, you never want to just assume, but I’m definitely mentally preparing for that," said Johnson of getting a spot on the initial 25-man roster. "But I was preparing for that last year. You always want to have goals. Every spring your goal is to strive to be who you want to be. In that sense, it’s the rotation. So, yeah, I would say I don’t want to assume I’m in the rotation, but my goal is to make the rotation."

Even though it was against inexperienced opponents, Tuesday did nothing to derail his goals. With the status of Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez still in doubt due to their own respective health concerns, Johnson would seem to have a pretty good chance at perhaps even making a start in the initial series against the Rays 155 miles from his hometown. ("Having that opportunity, I assume a lot of my friends and family would be there. It would mean a lot," he said.)

Armed with the confidence of some major league success last season, and a few key slight adjustments, Johnson has been offering the appearance of a confident major league starter throughout camp. The performance, along with his contract situation (he is out of options), is making it sure seem like the 27-year-old's luck is about to change.

"You see the writing on the wall," he said. "Obviously, the no-options thing matters. But you know, with a couple guys being down, you know you kind of sense it – this is the time to kind of seize the opportunity. You kind of see that. that’s the biggest thing for me."

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