Ben Johnson Update
Being a big fan of his all-out, hard-nosed style of play, I was very disappointed to find out Ben Johnson had been non-tendered by the Mets earlier this month. It didn’t help that Heath Bell — the man for whom he was traded — was also one of my favorite Mets.
However, I had not been aware that Johnson was still struggling in his recovery from an ankle injury back in early August. It turns out he tore the ligaments in his ankle and broke his fibula while diving for a ball in the outfield. Since I personally suffered a similar injury about a hundred years ago, I know that it’s more difficult to get the torn ligaments healthy than the bones. In Johnson’s case, he has been on crutches for four months and won’t be able to put on a sneaker until the first week of January. Now it makes sense as to why the Mets cut him loose — there’s almost no chance of him being 100% by the time spring training begins, and equally little chance of him being ready to play in ballgames by April. But perhaps there is still some possibility that the Mets will re-sign him to a minor league contract, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. He would provide exactly the kind of depth the Mets will need ready and waiting in AAA — a strong defensive outfielder who can hit from the right side. Lord knows Moises Alou will be hitting the DL at some point in ’08, and there’s no guarantee that Damion Easley will have another fluke year. Assuming Carlos Gomez isn’t traded, we do have him, but it’s nice to have Johnson as an addendum — especially a year after the Mets saw at least seven outfielders go down with injuries.
Hopefully we’ll get another update on Johnson in the coming weeks, as he begins hobbling around sans crutches. And perhaps the update will come from the Mets’ media department, along with the announcement of a contract for 2008.