DETROIT: In the Indians’ clubhouse before Thursday afternoon’s game against the Tigers, the music of choice was Detroit rap tunes by Eminem and D12.
Whatever the mood, whatever the setting, Elliot Johnson can find the appropriate playlist.
A 30-year-old infielder in his first season with the Tribe, Johnson has become the Indians’ resident disc jockey. Since spring training, home or away, Johnson’s iPad is connected to the stereo, or in some cases a system not nearly as elaborate.
“What do you want today, Ax?” Johnson asked closer John Axford at Comerica Park on Wednesday afternoon. Axford and several relievers sat at the card table just inside the door.
Axford picked ’90s rock. “Nothing too loud,” Scott Atchison said.
Johnson has played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, but said he’s never been a team’s “Music Man” before.
Johnson said his elaborate, categorized selections were launched in spring camp when left-hander T.J. House showed him an application that made iTunes selections easier. Johnson didn’t want to give the app’s name.
“I don’t know if I ought to disclose that information,” Johnson said. “Not sure what it is, he took care of it.”
As far as building what looks to be a huge music library, Johnson said the Tribe’s nine April road games, including three postponements, have helped.
“When you’re on the road and you have some free time, you go on iTunes and you find the popularity bar of different fan groups and you start listening to ’em and finding the ones that are good,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s walk-up music is Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, with Hendrix one of his personal favorites. He said the Indians’ clubhouse leans to ’90s rock, although ’80s, ’70s and even some ’60s are among the categories on his tablet. He didn’t seem to mind that some in the Northeast Ohio media lean toward the older stuff.
“It depends on when you grew up, what you’re listening to,” Johnson said. “It depends on the age of the team. You try and play the best you can; somebody’s always going to be unhappy, but you do the best you can.”
Johnson said he was more into rap in his younger days and didn’t broaden his horizons until four or five years ago.
“I appreciate most music now. Obviously, Red Hot Chili Peppers has always been good,” he said as the group played in the background.
The only downside to Johnson’s newfound responsibility comes when one of his picks is panned.
“It can be stressful at times,” Johnson said. “The guys like to give me a hard time any time something bad comes on, just because they want to say something. I love it, though.”
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