Johnson showing signs of breaking slump

Johnson showing signs of breaking slump

TORONTO -- Kelly Johnson has found himself in a prolonged slump ever since injuring his left hamstring in late May.

At the time, he was one of the Blue Jays' most consistent hitters, and finished May with monthly highs this season in homers (five), RBIs (18), average (.273) and OPS (.807). But since the injury, which required an MRI that came back negative and only forced him out of action for a couple games, he has been a shade of the player Toronto had at the beginning of the season.

Entering play Friday, Johnson is batting .190 with a .603 OPS in 142 at-bats since the All-Star break and has had an OPS under .650 in each of the past three months.

"It affected [his hamstring] me a lot just before I had taken some days. It hurt to swing, it hurt to run," Johnson said. "I'm not going to make the excuse, because it's ultimately, if I am good enough to play, I'm good enough to go out there and compete.

"It's not an excuse. If I didn't feel I could go out there and play, I wouldn't play, and obviously I'm out here playing."

Johnson has been working diligently with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy to try to get back on track and may have found a positive to build on. The second baseman has recorded back-to-back multihit games in his last two contests for the first time since June 15-16 and his three hits against the Rays in Thursday's series opener represented his first three-hit game since May 28.

"Probably in the cage, Murph has said it a couple times recently that I have taken more swings than anybody on the team," Johnson said.

Johnson said the fact that he's putting in the work has allowed him to remain positive.

"It's easier to handle and still have fun playing," Johnson said. "If I was to come here and just sit around and take it and didn't put in the work and preparation, I would be quitting on myself and I wouldn't be able to sleep.

"I'm doing everything I can and am still going to do everything I can."

The 30-year-old is set to become a free agent at season's end for the second time in his career and his 2012 performance could potentially cost him dollars and years in the offseason. But he's trying not to worry about that.

"It comes up, just because the family," Johnson said when asked if he thinks about free agency. "You wonder where you are going to be and it would be nice to know where you are going to be. I might have put more pressure on myself last year, but this year, I'm trying not to think about it."