ATLANTA (AP) — Chris Johnson is taking the same approach to the 2014 season he used one year ago, when he was fighting for a starting job.
Don't try telling Johnson he's a lock to start at third base for the Atlanta Braves after finishing second in the National League in hitting in 2013. Johnson is determined to work even harder this offseason to prove he deserves the job.
Hard work paid off last season, when Johnson hit .321, finishing second in the NL to Colorado's Michael Cuddyer. Johnson said he doesn't dare change that successful approach, so he was back at Turner Field on Friday, just as he has been every day of the informal pitchers' camp the last two weeks.
"I'm really superstitious so I'm trying not to make it any different," Johnson said. "I'm trying to come into camp trying to win a job. That's my mentality, just because I want to continue to progress and have a real good year. I'm trying everything to keep my mind on the same path as last offseason, so that's why I'm here.
"I'm trying to stay on that path as much as possible."
One year ago, Johnson was expected to share playing time with Juan Francisco. Johnson quickly won the job outright, and Francisco was traded to Milwaukee on June 3.
Johnson enjoyed a consistent season, hitting .330 before the All-Star break and .311 after the break. He didn't hit below .273 in any month and finished with 12 homers and 68 RBIs in 142 games.
"I'm really proud of how last year went," he said. "It's something that I'll never forget. ... It was definitely something that I don't want to forget, but it's a new season so you've got to move on quick. If you don't, this game will leave you behind quick."
Johnson's solid season was important for the Braves in their first season following Chipper Jones' retirement.
"Chris did a great job," said general manager Frank Wren. "He settled in and gave us quality at-bats all year long. I think it was nice to see because that was a big spot to fill."