Braves third baseman Chris Johnson reacts after being called out at first to end the game against the Phillies in the ninth inning at Turner Field. The Phillies defeated the Braves 5-4. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA -- Chris Johnson said Sunday he has apologized to Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton for throwing his helmet in the dugout following Atlanta's 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Saturday night.
Johnson grounded out to shortstop Jimmy Rollins to end the game. Johnson was out on a head-first slide at first base. He remained face down for a few seconds before returning to the dugout and flipping his helmet toward the bench.
Pendleton twice grabbed Johnson's jersey with both hands, pulling the third baseman close to him. The two exchanged words.
Johnson said his helmet bounced back and hit Pendleton.
"I'm a nut job sometimes, you know?" Johnson said. "My helmet slipped out of my hand and it hit someone. That's not good. I'm in the wrong right there. So I came in today, talked to TP and apologized and we move on."
Johnson didn't appear to throw his helmet very hard.
"I don't think it's the fact I threw it that hard," he said. "It's the fact it came out of my hand and hit somebody. I'm a fiery guy, too, so it's one of those things where I've got to find a way to cool off. That's TP's way of trying to help me out.
"It's all good. I talked to TP. We're all good."
Asked if he was upset the way Pendleton confronted him in the dugout instead of in private, Johnson said "No. I'm a big boy."
"TP is old school," Johnson said. "He's one of those guys when it happens, he's going to confront you as soon as it happens. It's all good. It's good for me. It's good for me to learn from that and make sure it doesn't happen again, because the last thing I want is to take out some anger on something and then have it hurt somebody on the team."
Johnson did not start in Sunday's final regular-season game against Philadelphia. Manager Fredi Gonzalez stressed he was holding out Johnson to rest the third baseman for the postseason. Gonzalez said Johnson jammed his right shoulder when diving for a ball on Thursday night.
"Emphatically I say that's the reason he's not in the lineup today," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez downplayed the incident between Johnson and Pendleton.
"It wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't caught on TV," Gonzalez said. "That's how little of an issue it was. It happens all the time in our sport. It happens in all sports."
Gonzalez said Johnson is "a likable, loveable guy" and said "TP is about as close to him as anybody on this team."
"I spoke to Chris, I spoke to TP. Those two gentlemen have spoken and that's it."
Johnson has been the bonus in the offseason trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta from Arizona. Johnson began the season in a platoon with Juan Francisco before winning the job outright. Francisco was traded to Milwaukee on June 3.
Johnson is second in the NL with his .321 batting average. He has 12 homers and 68 RBIs, helping the Braves win the NL East after Chipper Jones' retirement.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press