<
>

It's not home, but Kelly Johnson welcomes return to Mets

MILWAUKEE -- Kelly Johnson was not blindsided by getting traded from the Atlanta Braves to the New York Mets for a second straight season. Because Johnson had signed a one-year deal this offseason, he had to consent to any trade before June 15.

Johnson acknowledged he re-signed with the Braves in January after limited contact with the Mets in large part because his family makes its home in Atlanta. Still, he welcomed a return to Queens after this week's trade for minor-league right-hander Akeel Morris.

"I definitely didn't get ambushed, I would say," said Johnson, who rejoined the Mets on Friday. "I got a chance to let it sink in."

Johnson became the second player in major league history to be acquired by one team from the same seller in consecutive seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He joined Chad Kreuter, who was traded from the White Sox to the Angels in 1997 and again in 1998.

When Johnson and Juan Uribe arrived from the Braves last July, the Mets took off and ultimately reached the World Series. Johnson joked that now all the Mets need is another homer binge from Yoenis Cespedes, like he provided in 2015 after being acquired a week after the Braves duo.

"Obviously, the way it worked out, you can't be any happier with going to the World Series," Johnson said about last season. "Juan was awesome. He instantly became one of my favorite teammates. ... The talent's all here. The players are here. But what sets, sometimes, a champion apart would be chemistry and clubhouse and just guys pulling in the right direction and pulling for each other. I think we do that here."

With David Wright on the disabled list, Johnson should get some starts at third base filling in for Wilmer Flores. He also should get limited time at first base and second base. He primarily will serve as a left-handed pinch hitter.

Johnson starts on Friday at second base because Neil Walker is being given a day to let a bruised chest heal.

"It's obviously a good situation," Johnson said. "I know what I'm coming into. I'm way more comfortable. And them knowing me too, that's also a key. You don't have to feel any pressure about proving to be this or that. You just come in and do the same thing and play hard and hope you do some stuff to contribute to some wins."

Johnson, 34, acknowledged that it's not simple to leave his Atlanta home. During his 11-year career, he has played for the Braves, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Braves again, the Mets, Braves and then the Mets.

"I've done my fair share of moving," Johnson said. "It's eight teams. Now I've done two teams more than once. Five teams in the last two years. I did a whole division. It's no secret, I've been on the move. I have three kids. My wife, she's been awesome. She takes care of so many things and does such a good job with everything. It's definitely more comfortable and it's easier being home. If that option is there, it's tough to ignore.

"You look at all the options you have each offseason as a free agent and weigh out some things. In last year's case, with what was available, we didn't get to talks here [with the Mets] in the offseason to the point of being able to agree to anything. So I took what I thought was the best option. Being at home is nice. But now, to come to a winning team, hopefully we get back to where we were last year. But it is a new year. And we've got to fight our way back to the top."