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OC Register: David Fletcher’s injury clears the way for Sherman Johnson to finally reach majors with Angels


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OAKLAND — Sherman Johnson was relaxing at home in Tampa, playing video games late at night and not even thinking about the baseball season that, for him, ended two weeks earlier.

Then he got the phone call he’d spent years waiting for.

When Angels assistant general manager Jonathan Strangio told Johnson that he was headed to the big leagues, “I kind of didn’t believe him at first,” Johnson said.

Johnson had a cross-country flight for it to sink in, and on Tuesday afternoon he was sitting in the Angels’ clubhouse, with a uniform bearing the No. 18 and his name hanging behind him.

“It’s awesome,” Johnson said. “It’s still kind of surreal.”

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It’s been a familiar scene for the Angels, who this season have brought 16 players to the majors for the first time. The previous franchise record was 12.

Johnson, 28, had spent parts of the last three seasons at Triple-A. He had never even been added to the 40-man roster, so it would have been natural for him to be disappointed at another season passing without a big league call.

“You try not to let the frustration get to you,” Johnson said. “You keep playing, keep going, keep getting better every day. That’s all you can really focus on. It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to reflect.”

Johnson, a utilityman who can play all four infield spots and the outfield, got the call because David Fletcher strained his left hamstring on Sunday. With only two weeks left in the season, Fletcher’s rookie year is likely over. He did not make the trip to Oakland.

Johnson split this season between Triple-A and Double-A, hitting .251 with a .755 OPS.

The Angels also could have called up Luis Rengifo, a 21-year-old who had a breakthrough season in which he’d climbed through three levels and hit a combined .299 with an .851 OPS. They preferred to give him the time off after his heaviest workload in any pro season.

Fletcher’s rookie season will likely end with him hitting .275 with a .678 OPS in 80 games. Because of his strong defense, he still posted a WAR of 1.9, according to Baseball-Reference. That is strong production for half a season’s worth of playing time.

“He showed us he’s not overwhelmed with anything that happens on a baseball field in the major leagues,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s prepared. His skill set is better than a lot of folks give him credit for. I think he’s shown that he can help you win games. That’s the type of player you want out there.”

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Felix Peña, 3-4, 3-75) at A’s (LHP Brett Anderson, 3-5, 4.35), Wednesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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