PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Elliot Johnson returned to the Rays' lineup at shortstop on Tuesday after missing a week due to a sore left quadriceps.
Johnson, who is hoping to earn a spot as a utility player, is familiar with the injury as he has experienced it on two other occasions; one time as the result of a freak injury, which he explained.
"It all originates from a wild bullpen throw," Johnson said. "I got hit by it while standing on deck a couple of years ago. It came all the way down in the dirt and hit me on the left toe. It broke my toenail, so when the new one came out, it was ingrown and was just killing me.
"I changed my running mechanics and then a couple of games later, I ended up pulling my quad from trying to keep off of my toe."
Johnson had the toenail removed at the end of that season, but he experienced a problem last season. It was not caught as early and the injury cost him a month.
So this spring, Johnson wasn't about to fool around with his left quad when he began to feel it tighten.
"You can't really play the tough guy role," Johnson said. "I knew what I had and I knew it would be about a week."
Johnson doesn't believe the time off will hinder him in trying to win a roster spot, since a large portion of Spring Training games remain.
"I don't know how long it takes to evaluate, but I imagine 20 games -- or however many games there are -- would be sufficient," Johnson said. "They've got my numbers from last year. They know what I can and can't do. It's my job to make the most of this opportunity from here on out."