BOSTON – Red Sox first-base coach Ron Johnson is sort of out of uniform tonight.
He’s been dealing with tendinitis in left Achilles heel and the pain became so bad that he was having trouble putting any pressure on it, so he finally had a team doctor look at it. Johnson, 54, was given a mobile cast to wear until it heals. After spending 18 seasons as a minor-league manager, this is his first big-league job, so he’s been reluctant to let the injury interfere with his duties.
Last weekend Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar returned home to Illinois for his son’s high school graduation and there was some thought to move Johnson across the diamond. But because of his mobility issues, and the fact Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale served in that role for four seasons, manager Terry Francona decided to keep Johnson at first.
“It’s been killing him since the end of spring training,” said Francona. “He’s been very self-conscious about it and it was one of the reasons we couldn’t have him coach third the other night, because he hasn’t been moving very well.”
When Johnson emerged from the dugout to shag balls during early batting practice Wednesday, it was clear he was moving better with the aid of the walking cast. Francona told Johnson that if the boot helped his mobility, he had no problem letting him wear it on the field. There’s no uniform rule against it.
“It’s not like he looks that great anyway,” Francona said jokingly. “I know he’s been struggling and I know it’s been bothering him, so if [the boot] helps him it’s fine with me. He’s really been uncomfortable physically. Saying that, I think he’s been uncomfortable physically since 1974. But I know it’s been bothering him and I know it hurts.”