Johnson has strong case to make Marlins

Thriving in variety of roles, veteran outfielder looks to latch on as reserve

Johnson has strong case to make Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- Reed Johnson fully understands his situation.

In Marlins camp as a non-roster invitee, the 37-year-old has been asked to take on a variety of roles. Thus far, he is capitalizing on the opportunity, and he is making a case to be a reserve outfielder and right-handed pinch-hit option for manager Mike Redmond.

A week ago, Johnson had a five-hit game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. And on Monday, while facing the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, he came through with a pinch-hit home run off lefty John Lannan in the fourth inning.

Johnson followed that up with a three-hit game on Tuesday in an 8-1 win over Houston.

"When we signed Reed Johnson, we know what we were getting," Redmond said. "We were getting a veteran guy who's great in the clubhouse. He's been around forever. I've heard nothing but good things about Reed."

If Johnson makes the club, he will primarily be a spot starter and pinch-hitter.

"A big part of my role will be coming off the bench and pinch-hitting," Johnson said. "It's good to get into the rhythm of that, as well."

Johnson has enjoyed a productive Spring Training, batting .438 after going 3-for-4 on Tuesday.

"When you're talking about building your bench, you've got to have guys that understand their role and know what they can and can't do," Redmond said. "[Johnson is] definitely a guy that understands where he is on the team, and what position [he's in]. At the same time, too, he's got to come out and earn it. He's definitely making a case for himself."

In their evaluation process, the Marlins are looking at more than just a few dozen Spring Training at-bats.

Johnson has a track record from a big league career that started with the Blue Jays in 2003. The veteran has also played for the Cubs and Dodgers, and he played for the Braves last season, so he has familiarity playing in the National League East.

"These guys, they've seen me play," Johnson said. "I've been in the East, and Red, I played against him for a few years, so he knows what I'm capable of. But it's good to also kind of remind the organization of what they have. I'm trying to do everything I can to make the squad. Every hit that comes my way, I'll take it."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter