Q: Are there drawbacks to being part of a rebuilding process or youth movement, or is it helpful for younger players?
Johnson: Its helpful because were doing pretty well right now and were still rebuilding. You look at it in a sense of we still have a lot more to do and a long ways to go. So if were playing like this, imagine in a few years how were going to be playing.
Q: Can you describe the atmosphere in the clubhouse?
Johnson: Its pretty relaxed, pretty easygoing. Everybody takes it seriously as far as on the field, but in the clubhouse everybody tries to relax a lot. I think thats helped out more than anything.
Q: Did you always want to be a major league baseball player?
Johnson: Absolutely. Since I was in T-ball. I always thought I could, but I never knew if it would happen. It was always one of those things where people were like thats too difficult to do or you cant do that but I always kept it in my heart that I could.
Q: What's the best part about being a baseball player?
Johnson: Its probably the best job that you could have to get paid to play a game. I couldnt see anything better than that. Thats about it. You get paid money to do something you always wanted to do. Ive always wanted to play baseball. I played baseball my whole life and now Im getting paid to play it. I couldnt imagine anything else being better than that.
Q: What players did you admire as you were growing up?
Johnson: When I was growing up I always liked Dwight Gooden. That was who I always tried to copy my mechanics after. He was always somebody that I watched.
Q: What has been the best or most memorable moment of your career so far?
Johnson: I havent had a very long career yet. This is my fourth year. But its probably the first day I got called up. I was kind of in a daze most of the time. I was kind of in a zone because I actually made it to where I wanted to be. It was a wake-up call, I know, because the first guy I faced in the major leagues was Mike Piazza. I didnt fare so well there. He hit a first-pitch home run off me. First pitch I ever threw in the big leagues, he hit a home run off it. So that was a wake-up call.
Q: What were your feelings the first time you took the field as a player at Camden Yards?
Johnson: It was awesome. This is by far the best stadium Ive ever played in. Its enjoyable to be able to come to the field and play in a yard like this. I know a lot of other people have said the same thing and theyre on visiting teams. They love coming here just to play. It was a great feeling to take the field here.
Q: What are your hobbies or interests away from baseball?
Johnson: I like to play basketball, and fishing with my wife. We both go fishing all the time. Thats something I like to do in the off-season.
Q: At the midpoint of the season, evaluate the first half for you and the Orioles and tell us what you see for the second half.
Johnson: Weve played well, but I think we can play better. For the first half we played well. I think after the All-Star breaks over and weve had three days rest and get the baseball from our mind for a few days, were going to come back pretty strong. I look forward to the second half of the season with the team that we have.
Q: Fast forward to five years from now -- what do you see for yourself?
Johnson: I hope to be wearing an Orioles uniform still. I want to stay with this team for a long time. I think that Im going to keep getting better every year. In five years I hope to be on a winning team here.
Q: Give us your thoughts on playing with Cal Ripken and on his retirement.
Johnson: Its been a pleasure. Hes somebody to watch and admire. Hes always done his job and done it well. When Ive been sitting on the bench hes taught me some stuff this year to help me in my pitching. Hes a guy thats pretty easy to talk to. I wish he could keep playing, but I know its his decision and Ill go with what he thinks. Even though I think he can still play.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun