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M. Johnson nearing return to crowded infield mix

KANSAS CITY -- When Micah Johnson arrives with the White Sox shortly after Triple-A Charlotte's season ends on Monday night, the team will find itself in a similar situation to Spring Training.

One second-base position is available, with both Johnson and Carlos Sanchez working for playing time. Throw Tyler Saladino into the mix at third base, and the White Sox will have the good problem of finding enough at-bats for a glut of talented young players.

"You can't play them all every day, but we are going to find ways to get guys in there and rotate them around, and see guys at different spots," manager Robin Ventura said. "There might be a spot for Carlos to play some third base and move him around, and see how that goes, but for the most part it's probably just going to be Carlos and Micah at second."

Johnson broke camp as the White Sox starting second baseman, but the job went to Sanchez on May 15. Sanchez is considered the stronger defensive presence, while Johnson is more explosive with the bat.

But Sanchez has shown off his offensive ability after a slow start at the big league level, hitting .287 with a .748 OPS after the All-Star break entering Friday's series opener against the Royals, compared to .184 with a .466 before. Johnson has worked hard on his defense during his extended time at Charlotte, and Ventura simply wants to let him play to see how that work manifests itself.

"You are going to see with your own eyes of what it is, how it plays up here," Ventura said. "That's all you can do is just let him go out there and play.

"Some of the times, we get guys and they might be a year too early or a little bit early. They might be ahead in some other areas. I know offensively, [Micah] was ahead. His contact. He's a tough at-bat. Lefty, righty, it doesn't matter. You catch back up with this and we are going to see what it is."

Some have suggested that Johnson's speed profiles well in the outfield, but don't look for the White Sox to give him that debut opportunity in September.

"I mean, you would like to, but they would have done that down there in Triple-A where he was," said Ventura of Johnson in the outfield. "So, if they haven't done that there yet, there probably won't be a shot at doing it up here."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast.
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