Between Lee and Felix, Johnson's hands full

Between Lee and Felix, Johnson's hands full

NEW YORK -- The challenge doesn't get much greater for Mariners catcher Rob Johnson than catching Cliff Lee one night and Felix Hernandez the next.

They are as different as left and right.

"It's a lot more work catching Felix," Johnson said. "All of Felix's pitches are nasty. I'm not saying Cliff's aren't, but he is more about locating. He keeps the ball out of the middle of the plate.

"Cliff is a pretty easy guy to catch, because he locates so well."

Johnson was on the receiving end of Lee's third consecutive complete-game victory on Tuesday night against the Yankees and was behind the plate, as usual, when King Felix went to work on Wednesday night.

And when Hernandez pitches, Johnson knows he must be on his toes.

"When you call a pitch for Cliff, you know what it's going to do," Johnson said, "and when you call a pitch for Felix, you don't know. With Felix, I can set up on the outside corner and it will hit the inside corner because there is so much run."

One particular statistic stands out when discussing the difference between the two star pitchers. Hernandez, who shared the American League lead last season with 17 wild pitches, has uncorked 10 this season, compared to just two for Lee.

"I think you have seen improvement over the last month or so," manager Don Wakamatsu said of Johnson's blocking prowess. "I think he went through a stretch, just like a hitter, where you can lose confidence to the point where he knew it was affecting a lot of the games he was catching.

"One ball that isn't blocked or has a passed ball can affect the game and I know he has worked hard on it [defense]."

Johnson appears to have fully recovered from offseason surgery on both of his hips.

But even if he wasn't fully recovered, he said he is 100 percent.