CLEVELAND -- While many of the Rays' hitters are putting up numbers well below what was expected of them this season, Elliot Johnson is not one of them.
Johnson entered Sunday's game against the Indians hitting .277 with four home runs and 22 RBIs, which is a vast improvement over last season when he hit .194.
Ask Johnson about where he's sitting, though, and he'll tell you, "I believe I can do a lot more.
"I feel good at the plate right now," Johnson said. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball right now for a long time. It's hard to describe, really. It's almost like I can slow the ball down. I don't think about anything except for the ball -- and I see it really, really big right now. So hopefully I can keep that going as long as possible."
Though Johnson struggled last season, he has been a productive player in the past. In 2010, he hit .319 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs for Triple-A Durham. So perhaps his offensive output shouldn't be such a surprise.
Johnson feels he's going to do even better in the second half, and he's optimistic about the team's offense doing the same.
"We have to get better at prolonging at-bats, at seeing more pitches," Johnson said. "Any of the ways you can think of. Sometimes if you make an out, you want to at least make the pitcher work a little bit. We're going to get better. We have guys that can do the job, we know that."
Johnson thinks a reasonable offensive goal for the team would be to score at least five runs a game.
"We're not going to score 10 runs like we did [on Friday] night all the time," Johnson said. "Like I've always thought, five is our magic number. It seems like if we can get five, we've pretty much done our job offensively -- not that we want to stop when we get there. But if we can get to five, that seems like a fair amount. Not to put too much pressure on our pitchers, but really, that's the way our team is built. So, [it] kind of does have to put the pressure on the pitchers."
Molina's mentoring of Lobaton going well
CLEVELAND -- A lot was made prior to the start of the season about the influence that Jose Molina could possibly have on Jose Lobaton by mentoring his younger catching counterpart this season.
"I think it's been going good," Molina said. "I mean it was kind of sad to see him getting hurt early. But he's been picking it up the last probably three weeks, the last month. He [started] feeling a lot better. When you play more often, you're going to feel a lot better catching and calling games, hitting, everything. And I think that's the way he's been to this point."
Molina said Lobaton is a good student.
"He's great," Molina said. "He knows when he needs to close his mouth and listen -- and that's all you want as a teacher, guys who listen and then put it into practice. I'll be on the bench and sometimes he just comes up to me and asks me some stuff, good or bad.
"And if I see something, I will come up to him and let him know. But he knows the game, too. But little things I can help, I'll be right there by his side."
Lobaton is appreciative of the attention he's received from Molina.
"I think I've been learning," Lobaton said. "Sometimes we talk, but sometimes I see him play. Like I saw him throwing a guy out in Philadelphia, the way he threw the ball, it was quick. Everything was like boom, boom, boom. ... I told him I see those little things that make me want to work the next day. I'm like, 'He can do that, he's older than me, I can work, too.'"
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.