He can’t stand to look at a box score or any baseball highlights so Micah Johnson has opted for reading books and watching online lectures.
Disappointed yet understanding why the White Sox ended his season early after he reinjured his hamstring this month, the team’s No. 2 prospect has elected to return to college this week.
Johnson prefers to finish the season at Triple-A Charlotte followed by a likely September promotion to the majors. But since that’s not possible he wants to be as far removed from baseball as he can and has enrolled in 19 online units at Indiana University. A School of Public and Environmental Affairs major, Johnson is 32 units shy of his degree and intends to be constructive with his newfound time.
“I can’t look at baseball right now,” Johnson said by phone. “I can’t watch games. I can’t look at box scores because I just want to play. I’ve got nothing else to do. It’s going to get my mind off it and it’s a busy course load and yeah, all the classes are hard and upper-level classes. It’s just going to be giving me a chance to stay focused on that.”
Johnson’s disappointment is easy to understand.
He has dealt with a hamstring strain since he first went on the disabled list on May 23. Despite not feeling fully healthy, Johnson, 23, hit .275/.314/.370 at Charlotte and stole 12 bases.
Though his numbers weren’t on par with his performance at each previous stop, Johnson is proud of how he managed the situation and learned to play at less than 100 percent.
But earlier this month, Johnson, perhaps the favorite to be the White Sox Opening Day 2015 second baseman, suffered a repeat of the injury and the White Sox opted to sideline him, which wipes out September.
“We’re going to give the strain 4-6 weeks to heal, and we expect he should be 100 percent and go into next season without restriction,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week.
Johnson trusts the team’s decision.
He admits his range and explosiveness were affected by the injury.
He remembers the frustration he felt when he couldn’t run down ground balls he had in the past. But Johnson also believes he should play every day unless surgery is needed.
And that’s not counting the opportunity created in the majors by the trade of Gordon Beckham, which occurred the day after Hahn announced Johnson’s season was over.
“I’m not one just to sit around all day and not do anything,” Johnson said. “I like being around the team and working every day. We were really focusing on infield stuff down there in early work with Ryan Newman just in case I did get the call, to be ready. It’s kind of frustrating because I wanted to keep working every, but obviously the White Sox know what they’re doing. They understand I’m going to be upset, that’s the type of person I am, that I love to play. I trust they know what they’re doing and I have to get ready for next year.”
For now, however, Johnson’s immediate focus is his post-playing career.
He wants to be prepared for whenever his career is finished and one day would like to attend law school.
Johnson’s strenuous course load includes: Human Anatomy (five units), Constitutional Law (three), Physics (two), English Contextual Writing (three), Indiana Government and Politics (three) and Communications and Culture (three).
“Baseball only lasts for so long,” Johnson said. “I went to school for three years and I don’t see why I wouldn’t finish my last one. Baseball has a good scholarship program that helps you finish. You’ve got all these resources at your disposal to use. Extra month, extra time and I can’t sit around and do nothing all day. It kills me.”
Johnson’s disappointment hasn’t prevented him from overlooking the situation’s silver lining.
Because the injury occurred when it did, Johnson still had time to enroll in online courses. Had it happened now or in September, Johnson might not have been able to return to school.
The unique opportunity isn’t lost on Johnson.
“Its something I can do now and I want to do it,” Johnson said. “I work out two hours a day and then I’ve got nothing else to do the rest of the day. To avoid having to watch baseball and getting me upset again, I’ve got to find something else to do and this is going to be it.
“There’s always a hidden blessing. You have to take advantage and adapt.”