Former Yankee signs with Tribe
Nick Johnson is officially with the Cleveland Indians.
The free agent first baseman was signed Monday to a minor-league contract with an invitation to the Major League training camp by the Indians, who also locked up 25 roster players to one-year deals.
Johnson played only 24 games in 2010 for the New York Yankees before injuring his right wrist and going to the disabled list for the eighth time in nine seasons. He had three surgeries on the wrist, the most recent in February by Dr. Thomas Graham at the Cleveland Clinic.
The 32-year-old will continue rehabilitation at extended spring training when the Indians break camp.
If he joins Cleveland during the season, a club option for 2012 kicks in to his contract.
“We need to get him healthy first,” manager Manny Acta said after the Indians played to a 16-16 tie against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz. “I don’t think it’s a secret what Nick can do.
“He’s an on-base percentage machine, a very good first baseman. But right now, that’s irrelevant until he finishes his rehab.”
Johnson has a career average of .270 in 794 games for the Yankees, Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins. In 2006 with Washington, he hit .290 with 46 doubles, 23 homers, 77 RBIs and 110 walks. As mentioned, the Indians like his .401 career on-base percentage.
Earlier, Michael Brantley headlined the group of signees that left only starting catcher Carlos Santana and right-handed rotation candidates Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez unsigned.
Brantley, tabbed to start in center field in place of veteran Grady Sizemore, played in four of the first five exhibition games, but has been sidelined since Thursday.
“Michael has some lower-half soreness,” Acta said. “It is not a major concern.”