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Trying to make team, Johnson endures setback

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Trying to make team, Johnson endures setback

VIERA, Fla. -- Infielder Josh Johnson was in good spirits on Tuesday in the Nationals' clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium, despite learning the day before that he had encountered some misfortune.

In Major League camp for the first time as he enters his 11th season in pro baseball, the 28-year-old infielder did something he's done thousands of times before -- swing a bat. This time, something didn't feel right in his left hand, and Johnson was diagnosed with a hamate fracture, requiring surgery. The hamate is a small carpal bone in the wrist on the opposite side of the thumb.

Manager Matt Williams said Johnson is likely to miss four to six weeks, although Johnson expects to be ready in about 25 days, putting him back around the last week of camp.

"I'm a firm believer in my faith and I know the Lord has a plan for me, and for some reason, he wanted me to take a break," Johnson said. "The Nationals, I've been a part of this organization since 2010, and I feel they have an idea of what I can offer, what I can bring to the table. I'm just thankful for this opportunity they're giving me and thankful to be a ballplayer in general."

Johnson said he has full trust in the rehab plan set forth by head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz and assistant Steve Gober. He'll take a week to rest and get the swelling down, then begin his rehab, working on grip strength.

Johnson split last season between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, playing shortstop, second base, third base and both corner-outfield positions. Overall, the former Royals' third-round pick posted a .293 batting average, a .390 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage, with eight home runs and 42 RBIs.

"This is a blessing to even be sitting here right now," Johnson said. "So no complaints. I've got total trust in the Nationals. Just thankful to be here."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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