PITTSBURGH (AP) Kelly Johnson is back with the New York Mets, who hope he can spark to a slumping team that had lost seven of 10 going into Wednesday night's game against Pittsburgh.
The Mets acquired the utilityman from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday for right-hander Akeel Morris. Johnson is expected to join the team Friday night in Milwaukee.
As part of the deal, the Braves will pay the Mets $450,000 on Aug. 1 to cover part of the $1,267,760 remaining of Johnson's $2 million salary.
''A lot of people disregard the importance of the clubhouse, but I don't,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''Kelly was a leader last year. He had some big hits and helped turn things around for us. He is a welcome addition.''
New York acquired Johnson from the Braves last July 24 and went on to win its first NL pennant since 2000. The Mets have scored just 24 runs in the last 10 games. They are missing third baseman David Wright (herniated neck disk), first baseman Lucas Duda (stress fracture in back) and catcher Travis d'Arnaud (strained rotator cuff).
The 34-year-old Johnson was hitting .215 (26 for 121) with six doubles, one homer and 10 RBIs this season, starting 23 games at second, four in left and one at first. He was in his third stint with the Braves, who drafted him in 2000.
Johnson is likely to see most of his playing time at corner infield spots. Collins does not want to break up his first-year double-play combination of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Neil Walker.
''Kelly gives us more depth, and it's going to give me a chance to get guys some days off,'' Collins said. ''That's important. I think if we can get some guys a little rest, that it would give them a better chance of getting out of this slump and get going again.''
Morris, 23, made one relief appearance for the Mets last season in his major league debut. In 22 relief appearances with Double-A Binghamton, he was 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA.
Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets talked to Johnson on and off throughout the offseason about re-signing as a free agent.
''He's a player who helps us last year and gives us a lot of versatility,'' Ricco said. ''He wasn't quite a fit for us over the winter with the players we had, but we're in a position now where we feel he can come in and helps us give Terry some more options.''