Thank God he's patient

April, 18, 2010
4/18/10
5:35
PM ET
I award myself the Most Impertinent Question of the Day award for asking Nick Johnson after the game if he takes pitches in the batting cage. It's not an award I'm particularly proud of, but I just couldn't resist the question.

Johnson, statistically the most patient hitter in the game -- according to ESPN Stats and Information, he so far has taken more pitches than anyone in baseball -- looked at me for a moment as if he wasn't sure how, or if, to take the question. Then he smiled.

"Sometimes,'' he said. "You gotta work on your patience, you know.''

Like a borderline pitch, Johnson, thankfully, took it well. The Yankee Stadium crowd, however, might have lost some patience with Johnson in the late stages of Sunday's 5-1 win over the Rangers, booing when he went down looking in the eighth inning for the third time in the game.

That made eight times this year he has struck out looking, to go along with 15 walks and two hit-by-pitches, which ran his total to plate appearances that ended without swings of the bat to 25 out of 54. It raised the question of whether this ultra-patient hitter was, fact, being too patient.

"Yeah, I think so,'' Johnson agreed. "Maybe I'm being a little too passive. I just got to go to the cage and keep working.''

Joe Girardi, however, said he didn't want Johnson to change his approach, despite his .158 average.

"You're not going to see him swing at a lot of bad pitches, that's just the way he hits,'' Girardi said. "The reason he's striking out so much is he's hitting with two strikes a lot. But he's also walked a lot, too. That's what happens when you're a patient hitter.''
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146