To some players, the idea of being the designated hitter sounds great – hit three or four times a day and take it easy the rest of the time. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.
To others, though, it’s an incomplete task. Whenever Joe Torre would give Derek Jeter the famous “half day off” by having him DH, Jeter would make a point to sit right next to Torre on the bench and – for lack of a better word – nag him as much as possible. If Torre ever said anything, Jeter would just point out that he could solve the problem by putting Jeter back in the field.
Now, Nick Johnson is trying to transition into the idea of being a full-time DH. There are, obviously, a lot of upsides to Johnson being the DH, not the least of which being that it would sure seem like there’s a far decreased chance of injury when he’s not in the field. For someone with Johnson’s run of bad luck, that’s not a small thing.
The challenge, though, as it was for Jason Giambi a few years back, is to find a routine between at-bats that a) keeps you loose and warm, while b) not overdoing it. “I’m going to find one,” Johnson said earlier today, and then he mentioned that he tried riding the stationary bike as well as “throwing a few medicine balls” to keep his blood moving. I remember Giambi mentioning once that he’d talked to Don Baylor about the DH routine and said Baylor was a big fan of the stationary bike; Giambi added some dry swings to keep his shoulders loose.
Joe Girardi said he can’t offer many suggestions about DH routines, but expects Kevin Long to help Johnson figure out what works. They’ll also give Johnson plenty of chances to try things out this spring. “We want to DH him a lot of days in spring training, as opposed to playing him at first – we want him to get used to it,” Girardi said. “He knows how to do the first base thing.”