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Johnson breaks into acting on 'House of Cards'

PHOENIX -- It started with a simple introduction to one of his favorite actors.

While with Baltimore last July, A's closer Jim Johnson approached Kevin Spacey in the Orioles' clubhouse, while the actor was scouting set locations for his popular Netflix political drama "House of Cards," and small talk ensued for quite some time. Johnson wanted to know about life as an actor; Spacey inquired about baseball.

How quickly they intertwined.

After Spacey threw out the first pitch to Johnson at Camden Yards -- "He had no glove, so I gave him an extra batting practice glove," said Johnson -- executives of "House of Cards" decided to recreate the scene for an episode in its second season.

This time, of course, Johnson would be on the receiving end of a pitch thrown by Francis Underwood, the conniving character Spacey portrays in the series. Former Orioles teammate Nate McLouth, now with the Nationals, also makes a cameo in this scene, which takes place in the sixth episode.

All 13 episodes of the second season debuted on Netflix last week.

"They cut my lines," said Johnson, laughing, "but I don't care."

During filming, Johnson and McLouth were offered some background information on the episode, but Johnson nearly had to cover his hears, saying, "I didn't want them to tell me, because I want to watch it. I love the show so much."

He still hasn't seen the only evidence of his brief-lived acting career, since the Internet at his Spring Training home isn't working yet.

"I've gotten a couple messages from some people about it," he said, "and I still keep in touch with Kevin. He's a real nice guy. You know what was amazing, was watching him flip that switch and go into character. He automatically turned into Francis Underwood, and it was kinda creepy."

Upon hearing this, A's reliever Sean Doolittle -- another fan of the show -- yelled out to Johnson, "You're a TV star?"

"Yeah, but they had to take away my SAG card," Johnson joked, referring to membership in the Screen Actors' Guild union.

No membership required, though, to trade texts with Spacey.

When Spacey learned Johnson was traded to Oakland this winter, he reached out to the All-Star closer and informed him he had family in the Bay Area, "so it's all good."

"I'll have to have him come out for a game if he's around," said Johnson.

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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