"I was awful," Johnson said of an 0-for-28 start that saw his mechanics unravel as his frustration mounted. "I was sliding too much; my lower half was out of whack. I was swinging at everything. I was swinging at balls. When I swing at a ball, it's not good. It means I have no clue."
Johnson said on Monday he believes he's past those mechanical flaws, having spent a lot of time in the O's video room, watching film of himself from years past. The biggest adjustment for Johnson, who last played in the big leagues in 2010, has been getting his lower body back to where it was previously in his career, and he's hit .400 (8-for-20) with two homers and seven RBIs in his first seven games this month.
"I've been taking some pitches that before I'd be swinging at," said Johnson, who is well known for his patience when things are going good. "I've been taking some good pitches that -- body-wise, lower-half-wise -- make me feel good at the plate."
Asked if there was a doubt that Johnson -- who has dealt with multiple injuries, including multiple surgeries on his right wrist -- still had anything left in the tank, manager Buck Showalter admitted there's always some hesitation.
"We all have that emotion, but I get to see a lot of things that everybody else doesn't," Showalter said. "I get to see the day-to-day work and the want-to. Nick never gave in. He never gave me [the line], 'Well, my numbers will be there at the end of the year.' ... "Nick is just today. 'What can I bring today?' I don't think he ever assumes anything or takes anything for granted. With all that, he also knows the job description and the productivity that at some point has to be there. It's a lot easier to trust that it will come with the approach that he takes.
"You guys saw how we killed this guy in Spring Training because we wanted to make sure [he was healthy] before we made that commitment. So this was a guy that basically played every day in the spring, made all the road trips and never complained and whimpered. I think at times ... it helped him mentally to get over the fact that the wrist was sound."