PHOENIX (AP) -A few weeks ago, doctors wanted to drill a hole in Dan Johnson's head.
A severe sinus infection had caused swelling in his eyes and face, and the hospital medical staff hoped to drain the fluid and keep pressure off his brain.
Johnson nixed that idea in a hurry. The recovery time was two months and he had a job to do: making the Oakland Athletics' roster as a first baseman and designated hitter.
All of this after he'd already spent four days in December hospitalized with viral meningitis. Johnson isn't even exactly sure how many days he spent in the hospital in the most recent stint, maybe 11 or 12. It's all a blur. And, now, he'd rather look forward.
``A freak thing,'' said Johnson, whose weight is down to 213 pounds from about 235. ``Seriously, I don't even know what to say. ... I never even knew you could get sick from a sinus infection. It could have killed me right there. That's why I had to stay in the hospital.
``Crazy times,'' he said.
No wonder he practically attacked the Italian food offered on the clubhouse buffet the other day, piling some cheesy baked ziti onto his plate.
``I'm glad I lost 15 pounds,'' Johnson joked aloud to nobody in particular. ``I can eat this.''
The pressure in his head began on a flight from Phoenix to Oakland before the A's Fan Fest on Jan. 26. A few days earlier, he had some dental work done to replace several fillings and thought the headaches were just a result.
When he returned to the desert after Fan Fest, he felt even worse.
``I couldn't keep my eyes open. I had to hold my face,'' he recalled. ``It was a massive headache. It was so much pressure in my face I couldn't take it.''
Now, Johnson is physically trying to regain his strength as he competes with veteran Mike Sweeney - who signed a minor league deal earlier this month - for a roster spot.
The 28-year-old Johnson has played most of the past three seasons with the A's, but also had stints with Triple-A Sacramento in each of those years. He batted .236 with 18 home runs, 20 doubles and 62 RBIs in 117 games for Oakland in 2007. He also drew 72 walks for a .349 on-base percentage - an important stat in general manager Billy Beane's ``Moneyball'' approach.
``Dan had an offseason that wasn't medically where he wanted to be,'' A's manager Bob Geren said Thursday before the team's first full-squad spring workout. ``The positive news is that he's ready to go and he has his air back. He doesn't feel fatigued.''
This isn't even the first time Johnson has dealt with weird luck.
On the last day of spring training two years ago, he accidentally squirted sunscreen directly into his right eye. The bottle was old and had gobbed up, so when Johnson tried to spritz the cream to his arm it made a hard stream into his eye instead, causing severe trauma. It was later determined that Johnson had double-vision.
Johnson spent that season with what he thought was one blurry eye and tried a variety of different drops. The remedies would work only temporarily before he had to try something new. His eye also felt dry much of the time, and he became used to blinking constantly. Last offseason, he saw four or five doctors who put their heads together and began doing regular therapy on the eye and that helped.
``That was two years ago. Who knows?'' Johnson said, shaking his head at all his ordeals.
How about some good fortunes for a change?
``Wouldn't that be sweet? That'd be easy. It wouldn't be my life if it was easy,'' he said. ``I feel good, back at it again. Every year I'm the guy who was always written off and would be gone somewhere, but every year I end up here. Keep it rolling.''
Owner Lew Wolff happened to wander into the building as Johnson fixed his large plate of food.
``Feeling good?'' Wolff asked.
``Feeling real good,'' Johnson replied with a smile.

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