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The Early Returns On Nick Johnson's Return.

The line in the box score read simply...

Johnson, 1B    1 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 LOB, .000 AVG

,,,and you could also deduce from the box score that Nick Johnson had been hit by a pitch from Florida Marlins' lefty Scott Olsen in another at bat on Wednesday night in the Washington Nationals' Spring-opening game, before rookie Josh Whitesell replaced Johnson, playing first base and hitting fourth in the batting order. For the first time since September 23, 2006, when Johnson broke his leg in a collision in short right field at Shea Stadium, Nick Johnson was back on the field. And Olsen hits Johnson...

...In fact, according to Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga's article, "For Johnson, An Exhibition Of Pure Joy", Mr. Svrluga writes:

"He (Johnson) was hit by the first pitch he saw, a fastball from Marlins lefty Scott Olsen that grazed his right arm... In the fourth, he popped up to shallow center against right-hander Logan Kensing. He went 0 for 1 and didn't have to field any grounders."

...Mr. Svrluga's article also quotes Nationals' GM Jim Bowden, who once again openly addresses the competition at first base between Nick Johson and Dmitri Young, stating:

"'...I have no expectations until we get to the third week in March. And then, the last seven to 10 days of spring training, then we're going to see where they are baseball-wise.

"'I don't care if he (Johnson) goes 0 for 60 between now and then. I'm not going to evaluate him till we get there.'"

But for tonight at least, it wasn't about the competition for first base, as Mr. Svrluga eloquently puts it:

"...even as more than a dozen scouts sat behind the plate Wednesday night, Johnson's return to the field was more about the moment than what it might lead to.

...Or course the game of baseball being what it is, it didn't take long for Johnson to be tested in the field on a play which, according to Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman's article, "Johnson returns in spring opener", bore an eerie similarity to the play on which Johnson was injured, and the description which Mr. Zuckerman provides, cinematically starts in media res:

"The ball went spinning off Robert Andino's bat and headed toward no-man's land down the right-field line.

"Nick Johnson's baseball instincts told him to chase down the pop-up. But somewhere between the time ball met bat and right fielder Elijah Dukes caught it in foul territory the unforgettable scene ran through Johnson's mind."

Mr. Zuckerman includes Mr. Bowden's "...I have no expectations", quote as well, and ends his article much like Mr. Svrluga's, making sure to note:

"On this night, the sight of Nick Johnson in uniform playing in an actual baseball game was reason enough for the Nationals to smile."

In's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Johnson returns after long layoff", Mr Ladson asks Johnson himself for his opinions on his own return to the lineup and the competition for first base, with Mr. Johnson stating:

"'The swing has a [long way] to go, but we have a month left, so I'm not too worried about the swing,' Johnson said. 'It's more about my health. The swing will come.'"

...and Mr. Ladson writes:

"...Johnson reiterated on Friday that he would not accept a role as a backup and wouldn't mind a trade if he ends up being on the bench.

"'I want to play every day,' Johnson said. 'Dmitri had a great year. He wants to play every day. I want to play every day. I want to go out and have fun and let the chips fall.'"

...and since it's an election year in DC...The readers of have been given a vote of their own>>>, and so far 60 voters have weighed in with the votes split evenly amongst those who would trade Dmitri Young and name Nick Johnson the starter at first, and those who would send Nick Johnson packing and choose DY at 1B if given the opportunity. Sorry, Mr. Bowden. You're going to have to make this decision yourself...