Orioles reach agreement with Nick Johnson

The Orioles have reached agreement with first baseman Nick Johnson on a minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Johnson could give manager Buck Showalter another option at first base and designated hitter. He also could share time at those spots with Joe Mahoney at Triple-A Norfolk. No promises come with the deal, only an opportunity.

Johnson, 33, didn’t play in the majors last year. He appeared in 53 games with Triple-A Columbus and batted .201/.316/.332 with six doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs.

Johnson has dealt with back, wrist and leg injuries during his nine seasons in the majors. He didn’t play in 2007 because of a broken femur and missed most of 2008 with a torn ligament in his wrist. He underwent wrist surgery in 2010 after getting into 24 games with the Yankees.

The most games he’s appeared in is 147 with the Nationals in 2006, when he hit .290/.428/.520 with 46 doubles, 23 homers, 77 RBIs and 110 walks.

For his career, Johnson is batting .270/.401/.443 with 91 homers and 387 RBIs in 794 games.

“Obviously, he’s had a series of wrist issues,” said Johnson’s agent, Rex Gary. “It really took all of last year before he felt strong and pain-free. Then it was a matter of getting his stroke back. He didn’t swing a bat from May 2010 to June 2011, and he didn’t have his strength and feel comfortable until the end of the year.

“Nick feels great now. If he’s healthy, he can really help the Orioles. It’s a great opportunity for Nick and a great opportunity for the Orioles.”

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