Monday, April 5, 2010


By Nicole Johnson, Wife to Elliot Johnson

This spring training was an interesting one for my husband. When we got married in 2007, it was his first year on the 40 man (extended) roster for the Tampa Bay Rays. Once a player is put on the 40 man roster, the big league team can send him to a lower level than the big leagues three separate years (but as many times as they want in each of those years). When this happens, it's called an option, so therefore, each year, Elliot was "optioned" to Durham, the AAA affiliate for the Rays.

This year, however, Elliot was out of options, as the past three years before, the Rays had used those options to send him to Durham at some point each season. Most players look forward to being out of options, because it gives us a better chance at being on a big league team. If the team a player is with can't fit that player on the roster, he then goes onto waivers. Once on waivers, all the other big league clubs have the option of picking him up and putting him on their 25 man roster. If they have no space, however, then the player clears waivers and is sent outright to AAA with the team he was originally with.

One of the last days of camp, management with the Rays told Elliot that he wouldn't be making the big league team and that they planned on putting him on waivers and if he cleared, he was going to Durham. This happens fast, and it seems like nobody even sees it happen, because the very next day, he was informed that he cleared waivers, and would be playing the season at AAA, no longer on the 40 man roster.

What did it feel like? It was scary, uncertain, and disappointing. It was scary all spring long, feeling like he was competing with many other players for the same position. Players that are very, very good, and were very hard to compete with. It was uncertain in that we didn't know what would happen to us at the end of spring. We could have ended up in several different cities. The last week or so of spring training, I found myself taking our son and going to Target or to lunch while Elliot was at the field so I wouldn't sit around reading news articles about Elliot's position, or waste time on the MLB trade rumors. I tried to pack, but it's very hard to pack up everything when you don't know where you're going.

In the end, though, we were disappointed. As a wife, you want very much to see your husband succeed and meet every goal he has set for himself. I wouldn't call AAA unsuccessful at all, I think that many players are very successful at AAA, and I think that minor league baseball can make a GREAT career. I would say, though, that I was disappointed that Elliot didn't get a chance with a big league team this spring. I knew he was disappointed.

We are entering the season, though, with a renewed strength. It's nice that he gets to play in the city where we live in the offseason, so I have all the comforts of home (most wives do not have this luxury). Going through the waivers experience was definitely a different one, and one that many players and their families don't face, but many others do. We are thankful that he still has a job and that he gets to continue to do what he loves, even if it gives us a little stress at times. :)

During spring training, I reminded myself many times of two different scriptures and have been trying over the past few weeks to apply them to my life. The first is 1 Corinthians 10:10, which says "do not grumble," and the other is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says "give thanks in all circumstances." I have been reminding myself of these two every day, and have found that it helps when things are uncertain, or may not be exactly as you hoped. It has helped me see the good in all the circumstances that we have faced and will face in the future.


  1. Ah Nicole... trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, I think life will continue to throw these at us our whole life... but nothing that God doesn't think we are strong enough to persevere through. Stay strong and give thanks whenever you can... we were tested to the max this past year with Corey's job and our first year of marriage, and we came out stronger than before, with a new outlook on life. Love to you!

  2. As a Durham Bulls fan, I can say that we are happy to have Elliot back on the team. Only knowing him from the viewpoint of a fan in the stands, he seems like a worthwhile guy and I appreciate that you consider Durham a home and not just a pitstop along the way to somewhere else.

    I hope that both you and Elliot know that there are more than a few of us Bulls fans who appreciate having both of you as a part of our community.

  3. And we also appreciate the time Elliot gives to coaching younger kids! He's a great coach and seems to really care about the kids (good practice for all those daddy-years ahead!) We will definitely count our blessings for as long as you and your family are able to stay in Durham.

  4. Great words to live by as life throws different things at you constantly. I think you can add in a little of "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." If we can remember to find the good and give thanks then we can get through it and be better because of it.