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Johnson uses music, art to help improve focus

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CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson chose a unique set of practices in seeking improvement for his defensive focus at second base.

The 23-year-old rising prospect put down the video games this offseason and chose instead to play the piano and paint. As Johnson explained, there's more concentration needed in both acts, such as studying and reading sheet music for the piano.

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"It's something I always have loved to do, paint and play piano and guitar," Johnson said after a morning SoxFest seminar Sunday where he was part of the panel. "I do that for hours for better focus, instead of playing video games where I can do nothing but shoot a couple of guys on the screen.

"Baseball is all about focusing pitch to pitch. Sometimes I'll take a pitch off, and that's when the hard ground ball is hit to me and I'll boot it. That's not going to happen anymore."

Johnson topped the Minor Leagues with 84 stolen bases last year, and he earned a non-roster invite to Spring Training in the process. The left-handed-hitter will carry a strong belief to Arizona that he can break camp with the team, based partially on the overall improvement of his game in 2013.

"Where I came from at the start of last year to now, it's huge leaps and bounds with my game defensively," said Johnson, who hopes to remain a second baseman. "Hitting wise, I made improvements. Stealing wise, I made improvements, but defense is what keeps people around this league."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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