Hitting or not, Johnson helping Yanks

Hitting or not, Johnson helping Yanks

OAKLAND -- Nick Johnson's line across the box score on Tuesday essentially explained his early run at the plate this season -- no hits, but a couple of walks and two runs scored in the Yankees' 7-3 victory over the Athletics.

So it goes for the notoriously patient Johnson, who was imported in large part due to his high career on-base percentage. Johnson may be batting just .146 through his first 41 at-bats upon returning to the Yankees, but entering Wednesday, he led the team and ranked second in the Majors with 16 walks and owned a .407 on-base percentage.

"I don't think anyone is complaining about how much he's on base," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes you look at his batting average and you think that he's really struggling and maybe not helping the team, but you look at how much he's been on base, and he's helping us."

Maybe it's rubbing off on Johnson's teammates. The Yankees entered Wednesday leading the Majors with 71 walks and one walk per 7.25 plate appearances, having seen 2,070 pitches through 13 games -- an average of 159.23 per game.

Still, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has mentioned to Johnson that he needs to be more aggressive in hitters' counts. Johnson entered play Wednesday hitless in his past 12 at-bats and went 3-for-16 on the club's recent homestand.