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Dodgers sign Dan Johnson as pitcher

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Former first baseman converted to pitcher at age 36

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have signed former major league first baseman and now converted pitcher Dan Johnson to a minor league contract, the independent St. Paul Saints announced on Monday.

A club source has confirmed the deal. Johnson will report to Double-A Tulsa.

Johnson, who turned 37 on Aug. 10, is likely most known for his game-tying home run in the ninth inning on the final day of the 2011 regular season, helping to secure the American League wild card for the Rays.

Drafted by the A’s in 2001, Johnson played his first six major league seasons in organizations with either Farhan Zaidi (in Oakland) or Andrew Friedman (in Tampa Bay), now both in the Dodgers front office. In parts of 10 seasons, Johnson hit .234/.335/.405 with 57 home runs in 443 games for six times, including the Cardinals in 2015.

The Rays signed Johnson to a minor league contract in March as a knuckleball pitcher, but he was released at the end of spring training.

Johnson has played for three independent teams in 2016 — the Bridgeport Bluefish, the Long Island Ducks, followed by St. Paul — though he only played on offense for Long Island.

Between the Ducks and the Saints, Johnson put up 5.92 ERA in 17 games, including 15 starts, with 55 strikeouts and 50 walks in 76 innings.

Here is a video of Johnson talking in June about making the switch from position player to pitcher.

Tulsa already has another converted pitcher who played in the majors as a position player as recently as 2015, in Jordan Schafer. The 29-year-old more traditional left-hander this season has a 4.17 ERA in 36 games between Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 45⅓ innings.

The last knuckleballer to pitch for the Dodgers was Charlie Haeger, who had a 6.43 ERA in 15 games, including nine starts, in 2009-2010, with 45 strikeouts and 33 walks in 49 innings.