- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

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VIERA, Fla. — Nick Johnson said today he doesn’t expect to be able to return to the Washington Nationals’ lineup until at least June.

Johnson, who is trying to come back from a broken right leg suffered late last season, made his first appearance in the Nationals clubhouse since suffering the injury and was still walking with a noticeable limp. He remains in the rehab stage of his recovery, hasn’t begun any kind of baseball activities, hasn’t even begun jogging yet and has gained 15 pounds while remaining mostly inactive during the last five months.

Asked when he thinks he can return to the majors in a best-case scenario, Johnson said: “June? A couple, three months. Everything’s so weak in my right leg and hip, my quad, everything.”

Johnson wasn’t basing that prediction on anything he’s been specifically told by team doctors. General manager Jim Bowden reiterated the club won’t have a clear idea about Johnson’s return date until doctors have a chance to review his latest X-rays and until the first baseman actually gets on the field for the first time.

“Right now, there’s not enough info or data to put a timetable on it,” Bowden said.

After Johnson collided with right fielder Austin Kearns chasing down a shallow fly ball at New York’s Shea Stadium, breaking his right fibia, team doctors predicted he’d be able to make a full recovery by the start of spring training. But he’s suffered a few setbacks since and has needed two follow-up surgeries.

“It feels like someone just hit you in the leg,” Johnson said, describing the discomfort he still feels. “Like you’ve got a charley horse all day long.”

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