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Unit struggles in Minor League start

Johnson roughed up by Sky Sox for five runs in four innings
April 4, 2008
TUCSON -- Randy Johnson was looking for results, but in his first rehab start for Triple-A Tucson, he was more convinced about his work in the batter's box than his pitching line.

Johnson was touched for five runs over four innings in his 78-pitch outing against Colorado Springs. After giving up two quick runs in the first and three more in the second, the 44-year-old left-hander settled down to throw two scoreless frames.

"You want to see some results and I really didn't start getting that until the last couple innings, and by that time I was already at my pitch count," Johnson said. "I got some work ahead of me, starting tomorrow."

Johnson's final line was eight hits, five runs, two walks and a strikeout of opposing pitcher Greg Reynolds.

Sidewinders manager Bill Plummer said Johnson's pitch count was set at 85, with the hope he could go at least five innings.

Johnson was the victim of some less-than-solid defense in the second, when a possible inning-ending double play ball was botched by third baseman Jamie D'Antona.

"I thought he improved as he went along," Plummer said. "Really, if we only make that one play, that's three scoreless innings."

Plummer saw Johnson pitch last week against the White Sox in a Minor League Spring Training game and thought he was better Thursday and had a higher velocity.

At the plate, Johnson had a two-run single in the Sidewinders' seven-run first inning, then got on again in the third after Reynolds walked him on four pitches.

Johnson said he felt fine physically and that his back didn't derail him, icing it after his outing.

"I didn't feel obviously too good about the performance, the amount of effort that it took to get through four innings," Johnson said. "I was hoping it would have been spread over six innings, at least five.

"It's hard to gauge what's going on."

Johnson said he will make his next scheduled start on Tuesday at Tucson Electric Park. The Diamondbacks are hoping he will be ready to slide into the rotation as soon as April 14 in San Francisco in place of Doug Davis, who will undergo surgery for thyroid cancer next week.

"We'll make a decision after that start, but I'd like to think things will improve a little bit from a pitching perspective and I get my amount of work in that I need to get in spread over six innings or five innings because if I'm pitching that way in four innings, there's no way I can go five," Johnson said.

Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for