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Versatile Johnson gets work in at first base

TAMPA, Fla. -- Kelly Johnson has been up for any challenges the Yankees toss his way this spring, including strapping on the glove at first base, but Johnson would prefer if Mark Teixeira still is able to handle the position as much as possible.

"I told Tex, he's got 162," Johnson said. "You never know how it's going to play out. You guys know, after last year here, you just can't really predict stuff. I'm not going to worry about it, but I'm going to still get the early work and do what I need to do just in case."

Johnson started at first base for the Yankees on Sunday, his first game there this spring. Johnson's afternoon ended after Rays reliever Jeff Beliveau drilled him in the back with a pitch, and manager Joe Girardi said that Johnson had the wind knocked out of him.

The plunking wrapped up an eventful day for Johnson, who said that it felt "all right" to be at the position, where he has played just three career big league games.

While Johnson is being looked at as the leading candidate to be New York's Opening Day third baseman, he is also getting some reps at second base, first base and left field. Johnson and Teixeira spoke last week about some of the footwork needed to play first base.

"I think it's just picking up the speed of the game at those spots," Johnson said. "You're closer. Any time it's new, your mind is kind of moving fast. Third base has already started to slow down a little bit more. I'm feeling better. First base is one of those I probably won't get to play enough over there, but every little bit helps."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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