Johnson Looking Back to Cy Young Form with Giants

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Randy Johnson is making quite the first impression in his first spring with the San Francisco Giants.

Johnson has allowed one earned run in 8 1-3 innings in his three
exhibition starts with San Francisco after signing a one-year, $8
million contract as a free agent this winter. The five-time Cy
Young winner has 12 strikeouts and has given up six hits and three
walks.

"I've always felt like when I come to a new team, I need to
impress them and do well, to a certain extent," Johnson said. "If
I were to go out there and not pitch well, everybody would be going
My god, he's 45. He's done. He can't do it. Look, how bad he is
pitching.

"Unfortunately, it's kind of unfair, as you know early in
spring training with the Diamondbacks from 1999 to 2004, I'd get
shelled."

Johnson pitched against Giants minor leaguers on Friday rather
than make the trip to Tucson, where the Giants played the Colorado
Rockies.

Manager Bruce Bochy has said this spring there are "no issues
at all" with Johnson's surgically repaired back after disk
operations in October of 2006 and August of 2007, but he still did
not want Johnson to make the trip.

"The long drive there, get out and pitch, the long drive back
it's not worth the risk," Bochy said.

Johnson has not always been a strong spring starter. He was 1-1
with a 9.68 ERA in the spring of 2000 for Arizona, when he gave up
28 hits and 10 walks in 17 2/3 innings. He had a 5.00 ERA in 27
innings the next spring but won Cy Young awards both seasons.

"These are giant strides for me, considering where I have been
in the past," said Johnson, who has been delayed out of spring
training the previous two seasons with Arizona while recovering
from the back operations.

"My back feels great. It is time to get my arm where it needs
to be."

Johnson was 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four starts for Arizona
against San Francisco last season, when the bullpen failed to hold
two leads for him.

Pitching coach Dave Righetti said he likes Johnson's approach
this spring.

"Even though he's a power guy, and he can get his strikeouts,
he doesn't try to do it from the first pitch he throws the guy,"
Righetti said.

"If he gets ball one, he knows he can turn the ball over and
get a groundball. Or he backs off a little. Now when he gets two
strikes and the advantage becomes his, then you see him go after a
guy like a shark. I like the 1-0, 2-1 pitches that he makes it
shows you the maturity that he has, over the years developing the
two-seamer, keeping it down, maybe an off-speed pitch."

Notes:

THP Brandon Medders pitched two scoreless innings in a 7-3,
10-inning victory over Colorado in Tucson on Friday, extending his
spring scoreless streak to 8 1-3 innings. Medders, a nonroster
invitee after signing as a free agent this winter, is making a
strong case for one of the two available spots in the Giants
bullpen. Bochy has said the Giants are still deciding whether to
carry 11 or 12 pitchers on their opening day roster. Medders has
given up two hits and walked two while striking out four.

After the first of two scheduled off days Thursday, the Giants started
Kevin Pucetas against Colorado in Tucson on Friday.

OF Nate Schierholtz (back) is expected to return to the lineup Sunday or
Monday, Bochy said. He has not played since Feb. 28 after suffering
back spasms. He is considered the top candidate to become the
Giants fourth outfielder this season.


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