Getting to CHS Field

Saints Get Familiar Bat, Sign Former Major Leaguer Dan Johnson

ST. PAUL, MN August 20, 2017

Looking for a spark over the final two weeks of the season the St. Paul Saints turned to a familiar face.  Following his exceptional season in Mexico, the Saints have signed infielder, and former Major Leaguer, Dan Johnson.  The Saints also re-signed pitcher Matt Schuld, who will start on Sunday.


          The 38-year-old Johnson spent this year playing for Puebla and Leon in the Mexican League where he hit .319 with 13 home runs and 57 RBI in 62 games.  IN 270 at bats he scored 38 runs, ripped 12 doubles, two triples, had a .470 on base percentage and a .585 slugging percentage.


          Last year Johnson was a two-way player for the Saints.  On the mound he was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts.  In 40.0 innings he has walked 20 and struck out 27 while opponents are hitting just .231 against him.  Over three straight starts from July 28-August 13 Johnson allowed just one run over 18.2 innings pitched.


          Johnson also played first base and was a designated hitter for the Saints providing some much needed pop in the middle of the lineup following the injury to first baseman Angelo Songco.  Johnson hit .277 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 18 games as a hitter.  In 65 at bats he scored 12 runs, had a .373 on base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage.


          Johnson then had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and was assigned to Double-A Tulsa.  He spent most of his time in Tulsa as a pitcher and was 0-0 with a 5.52 ERA in four games.  In 14.2 innings he walked six and struck out 10.


          Johnson had been tinkering with the knuckleball for the last few years and went to camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016 as a pitcher, the same team he hit a famous tying home run in Game 162 in 2011.  After going to camp with the Rays he signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League on April 8, 2016.  He pitched five games (four starts) and went 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA.  In 18.0 innings pitched he walked 15 and struck out 14 while opponents hit .242 against him.  The Bluefish traded him to the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, on June 13, for a player to be named later, but was only used as a position player.  As a position player between the two teams he hit .222 with seven home runs and 34 RBI in 58 games.


          Johnson was a seventh round pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2001 out of the University of Nebraska.  He rose rapidly through the organization slugging 58 home runs in his first three seasons from 2001-03 going from Low-A Vancouver, to High-A Modesto to Double-A Midland in those three seasons.  He was named a Post-Season All-Star in 2003 after he hit .290 with 27 home runs and 114 RBI in 139 games.


          In 2004 Johnson was named MVP of the Pacific Coast League and a Post-Season All-Star when he hit .299 with 27 home runs and 114 RBI in 142 games.  In 536 at bats he scored 95 runs, crushed 29 doubles, five triples, a .403 on base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage.


          Johnson got off to a Blazing start in 2005 at Triple-A Sacramento and made his Major League debut on May 27, 2005 vs. Cleveland.  He collected his first Major League hit on May 29 against pitcher Jake Westbrook of the Indians, a single to left field.  His first Major League home run came on June 21 against Joel Piniero of the Seattle Mariners in the third inning at Safeco Field.


          On April 18, 2008 Johnson was claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays and had an incredible 2010 season at Triple-A Durham.  He hit .303 with 30 home runs and 95 RBI in 98 games and was promoted to the Rays where he played 40 games and hit .198 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.  He was the International League MVP, a Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star in Durham and an Organizational All-Star.


          In 2011 he had perhaps his most memorable moment as a professional with the Rays.  He hit just .119 with two home runs and four RBI in 31 games in the Major Leagues, but one of the home runs came at the most opportune time.  With the Rays down one run to the Yankees, and fighting for their playoff lives in Game 162, Johnson pinch hit for Sam Fuld in the bottom of the ninth inning.  On a changeup, Johnson clubbed a solo home run off the pole in right, tying the game at seven.  The Rays would eventually go on to win and clinch a Wild Card spot.


          Johnson would go on to earn Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors in 2012 at Triple-A Charlotte and mid-season All-Star honors with the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A organization in Buffalo in 2014 along with being named an Organizational All-Star.


          The last game Johnson played at the Major League level was on July 28 for the St. Louis Cardinals.


          The Saints also re-signed Schuld who pitched for the Saints this season.  He was 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA. 


          Prior to this season the 29-year-old right-handed Schuld last pitched in 2014 for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and was 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts.  In 12.2 innings pitched he walked five and struck out nine while opponents hit .265 against him.


          Before that season the last team he pitched for was the Saints in 2012.  He was 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts.  In 14.2 innings pitched he walked eight and struck out nine and opponents hit .290 against him.  The Saints brought Schuld into camp that year, but he was nursing an injury and eventually signed him on June 24.


          Schuld signed as a free agent with the Twins organization in 2010 after completing an incredible career with the Tommies. 


          With the Twins organization, Schuld pitched two seasons.  In 2010 he split time between High-A Fort Myers and the GCL Twins.  Between the two stops he went 2-1 with a 3.11 ERA in 17 relief appearances.  In 37.2 innings pitched he walked seven and struck out 28 while opponents hit .268 against him.


          Schuld split time between Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain in 2011.  Overall he was 6-3 with a 5.51 ERA in 32 games (16 starts).  In 111.0 innings pitched he walked 40 and struck out 73.  In his stint with Fort Myers Schuld was solid going 4-1 with a 3.99 ERA in 15 games (one start).  In 70.0 innings he walked 19 and struck out 36.


          Schuld, who led the 2009 Tommies to the NCAA Division III championship, finished his college career with a 30-5 record to become the conference career wins leader. He closed with 239 strikeouts in 264 innings to finish third in UST history behind Dick Washburn (263 from 1963-66) and current Tommies head coach Chris Olean (246 from 1996-99). He finished his career with a 2.93 ERA in 44 career appearances, with seven shutouts.


          Schuld was a two-time All-American and in 2010 was named’s National Pitcher of the Year. He was named the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2010.

          Schuld was especially effective in the clutch. He went 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 10 career postseason games, including a 3-0 record in elimination games. In the lone loss, he pitched into the 10th inning in the 2008 NCAA playoffs in a game that was tied 1-1 through nine innings. He also started and pitched 12 innings in a no-decision against UW-Stevens Point in the 2009 NCAA playoffs.

Schuld guided St. Thomas to the 2009 NCAA championship with a 12-1 record, which included four postseason victories. He contributed to UST’s four regular-season and three MIAC playoff championship teams in his era.

          In order to make room for Johnson and Schuld the Saints placed outfielder Anthony Galls on the disabled list and released pitcher Benji Waite.


          The Saints currently have 22 players on the roster, 10 pitchers and 12 position players.