Johnson could be ‘ticketed’ for Triple A

Butte native Rob Johnson is likely to open the baseball season with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

St. Louis Cardinals’ starting catcher Yadier Molina returned to the team after missing three weeks while playing for Puerto Rico’s national team in the World Baseball classic.

In that time, Johnson has had the opportunity to work with starting pitchers for the Cardinals, giving him valuable experience if he plays with the big league club this season.

However, the 30-year-old Johnson is hitting just .167 this spring. The former Mariner, Padre and Met is 4 for 24 with two doubles and a home run. He’s driven in four runs and stolen one base.

The Cardinals are likely to go into the season with Molina, 30, as the starter and 26-year-old Tony Cruz as the backup.

The Memphis Redbirds open the season April 4 at home against Oklahoma City. The Redbirds play in the Pacific Coast League.