Johnson could see increased minutes down the line


Johnson could see increased minutes down the line

TORONTO With Jeff Green out for the entire 2011-2012 season, there is indeed a void that could be filled in some capacity by Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson.

One of the things the C's like about Green was his ability to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting skills, a trait that Johnson also possesses.

"JaJuan can shoot the heck out of the basketball," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "And he can really run the floor. Defensively, he's gotta get stronger, mentally and physically. And that'll come."

Although he played limited minutes in Boston's 76-75 preseason win over Toronto, Johnson chipped in with three rebounds and did a decent job defensively.

The idea that Johnson won't play much shouldn't be all that surprising, especially when you look at Rivers' track record with first-year players.

However, Johnson's lack of playing time will have less to do with his game, and more to do with the fact that there are a number of players, veteran players, ahead of him right now.

"The other guys are pretty good, (Brandon) Bass and Kevin (Garnett) and those guys," Rivers said. "We needed to get them first. It's great to want the young guys to play. But guys, we got two preseason games. He'll get his chance."

Like most NBA players, Johnson wants to play immediately.

But he's wise enough to know that his time to shine, may not necessarily be right now.

"I just feel like, obviously, the more reps you get at things, the more comfortable and the better you get at it," Johnson said. "Once I get more comfortable, get more reps - just in game situations - the better I'll be."

He added, "I understand with the talented players we have on this team, you gotta pay your dues. But I learn something everyday. And I'm always going to stay positive about it, and keep working."

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
Rob Whalen RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
Brian Johnson LHP