Johnson practicing too much patience?

Johnson practicing too much patience?

NEW YORK -- Patience may be wearing thin at Nick Johnson's patience at the plate.

Johnson, brought to the Bronx largely because of his remarkable ability to get on base -- he was behind only MVPs Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer last season in on-base percentage -- is batting just .143 this season in pinstripes. Johnson's patience has cost him a few times, as 14 of his team-high 20 strikeouts have come on called third strikes, including nine of his last 10.

"Sometimes when you're struggling, for Nick, that's probably what happens -- he becomes a little too patient," manager Joe Girardi said. "And when he tries not to be patient, sometimes he swings at the first pitch and maybe he doesn't get the right pitch. There's a fine line in between."

Johnson is in the starting lineup and in the two-hole on Friday; the designated hitter had missed three consecutive games earlier in the week with stiffness in his back, and Girardi had contemplated moving him down in the order. Johnson was 1-for-5 in his last start against the Orioles on Wednesday, with two more backwards K's.

All the while, though, his .385 on-base percentage is fourth on the team -- ahead of the team's first, third and fourth hitters.

"Over time, it's probably going to balance itself out," Girardi said. "Right now, he's on the wrong end of it. Nick is a proven hitter. I believe he's going to hit for us."