Diamondbacks Report: Big Unit, Big Mentor


Posted Mar 14, 2007


Randy Johnson embraces his mentor role with the younger members of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff. ALSO: Playing time for Alberto Callaspo, Eric Byrnes' outlook for 2008, and an injury update for Jeff DaVanon.

INSIDE PITCH

He was still in the process of trying to work his way into the Diamondbacks rotation, but as Randy Johnson continues his rehab from back surgery, he is sure of at least one thing:

He wouldn't mind being a part-time pitching coach for the organization when his playing days are finished.

"When I'm done playing, much like Jay Bell is doing now (as a part-time coach), I'd like to have a working agreement with the Diamondbacks so when the time comes that I decide to retire, I'll work in some capacity like that," Johnson said.

"I think younger kids are like sponges. They're dying for information. Some of them already feel like they might know enough to get by, but yeah, I'd love to help people in some capacity if they want it. And I think it would be a great opportunity for me to learn as well while I'm here."

Johnson, 43, said he soaked up as much information as he could from veteran pitchers when he was younger. He announced his corner of the clubhouse is open for any young pitcher who is seeking advice or help of any kind.

A couple of pitchers had already taken him up on the offer, and Johnson was hoping that as the year progressed, more would do the same.

"I've always done that," Johnson said. "Back when I was here the first time, I'd talk with Brandon Webb and Casey Daigle and John Patterson. They wanted to learn and were willing to take the time. I enjoy doing that.

"I learned because I was inquisitive. In doing that, sometimes you have to go outside and ask other players those kinds of things. I'd like to think I'm a resource here. I'm still leaning and I don't have all the answers, but ... we're all on the same team here trying to get better."

NOTES, QUOTES

--OF Eric Byrnes, who sees all the outfield prospects the Diamondbacks have stockpiled, doesn't know where he'll be playing in 2008.

"I may be way off base here," Byrnes said, "but part of my motivation going into this season is to prove to the Diamondbacks that hopefully I'm a piece of the puzzle that they need, that they will want to build around on and off the field. I think there are ways I can help this team be a better team, and it starts with being a good teammate to a lot of these younger guys that are just breaking in."

--UT Alberto Callaspo will get regular turns making starts in the infield for 3B Chad Tracy, 2B Orlando Hudson and SS Stephen Drew. He also will get some work in the outfield because of his switch-hitting ability.

"He's a guy I'm going to have to play," manager Bob Melvin said. "I want to keep everybody fairly well rested, and I have to make sure he gets his at-bats, too."

--OF Scott Hairston, trying to make the 25-man roster as an extra outfielder, on recent allegations that his older brother, Jerry Hairston Jr. of the Rangers, may have received prescriptions for human growth hormone, according to a drug probe in upstate New York: "I'm going to stand by him and I'm going to believe every word he says. He's an honest person. He has no idea about this. He's baffled. He was shocked, and I was shocked. But I'm here to support him, and I believe in what he says."

--OF Jeff DaVanon has been slowed all spring as he recovers from left ankle and right shoulder surgeries that ended his 2006 season, and by not getting into a Cactus League game, he ran the risk of starting the season on the disabled list. The switch hitter's primary problems have been being able to hit left-handed and running, specifically rounding corners and coming to a quick stop.

--SS Stephen Drew on starting a triple play during a recent Cactus League game against Seattle: "I've seen it once before on TV and that was it. To actually be a part of something like that is pretty unique, but that's the way baseball is."

--RHP Casey Daigle has been impressing in camp and is emerging as a possible depth candidate for the bullpen. He's had experience both in long and short relief and, although it might be a longshot for him to make the 25-man roster when camp breaks, he could be used in both situations at times this season, manager Bob Melvin said.

BY THE NUMBERS:
4 -- Starting pitchers in the Arizona rotation who were Opening Day starters last season -- Brandon Webb (Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (Yankees), Livan Hernandez (Nationals) and Doug Davis (Brewers).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Very rarely do I sleep. Maybe it's a sleeping disorder, but I don't sleep very much. I really don't. Maybe that's why I have so much energy, because I'm constantly living off the adrenalin." -- OF Eric Byrnes on his hyperactive, high-energy approach to the game.



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