Erik Johnson won’t come out and say he expects to win a job in the White Sox rotation in 2014.
At least publicly he won’t.
But Johnson, who is rated as the team’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, has made it very clear where wants to spend the 2014 season. As of now, it appears likely Johnson will start in his preferred destination as he is favored to win one of the spots in the big-league rotation.
“The big leagues is the place I want to be,” said Johnson, who is in town for SoxFest, which begins Friday. “That’s where I want to play. It’s the place that I want to be.”
Johnson made a strong case for himself last season.
The former second-round selection followed a breakout season in the minors (he won 12 and had a 1.96 ERA in 142 innings) with a strong September for the White Sox. Johnson went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in the majors and didn’t scare in his five starts.
But when asked about a spot in the rotation, the right-hander said he wants to stay grounded when he arrives at spring training in three weeks. White Sox pitchers and catchers report to camp on Feb. 15.
“The goal is to follow the process and try to work on what I need to work on each day, whether it be fastball, curve, slider, change,” Johnson said. “Whatever they say I need to work on, that’s what I’m going to put my emphasis on.”
Johnson is one of the key figures in the youth movement on 35th Street. The White Sox hope Johnson, 24, can be a key part of the rotation for a long time.
Johnson is grateful to be held in such high regard.
“It’s a great opportunity and I think it’s something to be thankful for and hopefully I’ll take this opportunity and do everything I can with it,” Johnson said.