Kevin Johnson decided it was time to give back to the community.
And stay in shape.
The 2006 Willard graduate, who spent the 2010 baseball season pitching professionally in the Texas Rangers organization after being selected in the 42nd round of the Major League Baseball Draft in June, is offering winter pitching instruction for area baseball players.
Johnson is titling the clinic "Call to the Bullpen -- Give Your Team a Chance to Win."
The objective of the clinics is to give area players of any level the opportunity to learn the fundamentals that will help them to develop into elite baseball players, and ultimately achieve their career goals on the diamond.
"Doing a clinic is something I've been interested in doing since I started professionally," Johnson said. "It's a chance to give back to Willard and the area baseball players in general.
"I feel like I'm in a situation where I'll pass my knowledge along and help people out."
Sessions have begun and will run until the end of January before Johnson heads to Arizona for Rangers Spring Training in February.
The clinics take place at the Willard Middle School gymnasium from from 8-10 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and 8-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
Those interested can buy a one-hour session for $20, a two-hour session for $40 or a three-hour session for $50.
All checks can be made payable to Willard High School Baseball.
"I'd like to make it an annual thing in my offseason between fall and spring when I'm in town," Johnson said. "Looking at the bigger picture, I'm just trying to bring baseball back to Northern Ohio.
"I'm not charging an arm or a leg and don't have huge facilities or any big clout, but it's just a way to get people thinking baseball, even in the winter."
Proper pitching mechanics and throwing technique will be some of the main pointers, along with shoulder and forearm strengthening for maximum performance and an off-season throwing program and workout regimen. If someone attends a three-hour session, pitching mentality and in-game strategy such as holding baserunners and other aspects will be covered.
It is also a way for Johnson to stay active and sharpen his skills in the off-season as he hopes for another big year after making a big splash in 2010 pitching for the Rangers Short Season Class-A Spokane affiliate.
"I have a few benefits for myself, but main reason is I have the opportunity to finally be back home for an extended amount of time," Johnson said. "I can show them a routine, and if they keep coming back I can do more topics and get more in-depth."
Johnson, a four-time All-Northern Ohio League and two-time All-Ohio selection for the Crimson Flashes from 2003-06, had one of the best rookie seasons a 42nd-round pick could have in 2010.
In 18 appearances out of the Spokane bullpen, the left-hander was 2-2 with a 1.24 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 29 innings of work.
At the end of the season in mid-September, Johnson was invited out to the Rangers Fall Instructional League, where after a couple weeks he was promoted to the Advanced Fall Instructional League, a spot usually reserved for higher round draft picks.
Not planning to rest on his 2010 laurels, Johnson will be heading out to Surprise, Ariz. a couple weeks ahead of the scheduled Feb. 13 report date for pitchers and catchers.
"I'll be out there as early as the first of February, that way I get a couple weeks in before things get going," Johnson said. "It's tough to get the type of throwing done here in Ohio that I need to get done. They open the facility at the first of the year, so the sooner I can get there the more I can be active with the pitching coaches."
For more information, Johnson can be reached at 419-706-1451 or by email at: email@example.com