Johnson trying to adjust to breaking balls

Johnson trying to adjust to breaking balls

HOUSTON -- Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, who's struggled this year after hitting .308 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs in 94 games as a rookie, got some sage advice Tuesday from former teammate Lance Berkman, now with the Cardinals.

"He came up to me and the first thing he said is 'You're not a big leaguer until you've had a bad April,' which kind of made me feel good," Johnson said. "Lance is a great guy and a friend of mine and a guy I look up to."

Johnson has noticed opposing pitchers have been approaching him differently this season. He said he's been seeing fewer fastballs and has been fed a steady diet of breaking balls, which is something he's trying to adjust to.

"Last year they found out I could hit the fastball out over the plate, and right now I think they're trying to tie me up a little bit inside with the fastball and a lot of offspeed stuff," Johnson said. "I've been seeing a lot more offspeed stuff than I've seen in my entire career just this last month. I think that's the approach I'm going with right now, and I'm working on figuring out how to be a little more patient and wait and try to get a good pitch."

Johnson stroked a single on a curveball in the fifth inning of Tuesdsay's 6-5 win over the Cardinals and then hit a bases-loaded fastball into left field in the sixth inning to drive in a pair of runs. He also struck out twice, giving him 22 whiffs in 76 at-bats.

"I really want to get the big hit for the team and want to get this thing going," he said. "I'm trying to get going and be patient at the same time. It's really awkward for me because it's the first time in my career I've had to deal with it."