Johnson gets crack at hitting in No. 2 slot

Johnson gets crack at hitting in No. 2 slot

Johnson gets crack at hitting in No. 2 slot
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Second baseman Kelly Johnson appears set to begin the season as Toronto's No. 2 hitter.

Johnson spent the majority of his time with the Blue Jays last year hitting in the bottom half of the order. That is expected to change this season as Toronto manager John Farrell indicated early in camp that he'd ideally move the veteran infielder up in the lineup.

"The hope is that Kelly Johnson takes that spot and runs with it," Farrell said. "We're still going to try to alternate through the lineup as best we can. If there are matchups that will dictate otherwise then we'll make that adjustment. Yunel [Escobar] will lead off, but I'd like to see Kelly in that two-hole."

Johnson came over to the Blue Jays last August in a trade with Arizona for second baseman Aaron Hill and infielder John McDonald. Johnson hit a combined .222 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs in 2011 while posting 55 extra-base hits in 545 at-bats.

The somewhat inconsistent season led to Johnson hitting in all nine positions in the batting order between his time in Arizona and Toronto. Despite the low batting average, Johnson still managed to post a .304 on-base percentage and has a .343 mark for his career, which is what caught the attention of Farrell.

Toronto's manager is looking for improved production out of the two-hole to help set the table for slugger Jose Bautista and Adam Lind. The Blue Jays managed to post just a .311 on-base percentage out of that spot in 2011.

"He's had years where he has been very good at getting on base," Farrell said. "To me, that's the most important thing. Guys that can get on base at a higher rate in front of Bautista, Lind, in front of [Brett] Lawrie, [Edwin] Encarnacion that's where we're looking to build it from."