After throwing a three-inning simulated game Tuesday at Chase Field, veteran left-hander Randy Johnson raised some suspicions over whether he will be able to pitch again or at least if he'd be effective should he be able to return from the same herniated disk that bothered him much of last season while with the Yankees.
"I think everybody in this clubhouse, maybe not the players, but I think the coaching staff and front office people would like to know -- and I would like to know -- whether I'm going to be able to pitch and help this organization," he said. "If not, I think I need to take care of things. And I think they would need to take care of things."
They were haunting comments, to be sure. Johnson, 43, is in the first year of a two-year, $26 million contract, and now, as if there weren't any concerns before, there are major questions about his immediate future and how it affects the Diamondbacks.
"We certainly are looking at all scenarios, good and bad," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We will continue to monitor things as they develop and see how he feels."
Johnson had back surgery in October and began the year on the disabled list. He went 0-2 after four starts, then went 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings.
"Every time he went out there, we thought we were going to win the game," manager Bob Melvin said.
Still, there was some hope that Tuesday's simulated game may be the next step toward his return. But it's all up in the air now.
"It's been almost 24 days since I pitched," Johnson said. "I think when you haven't done anything, let alone something like that physically and competitively, in 24 days, my stamina was not where I like it to be.
"If it feels good, then we'll march forward. If I don't ... we'll cross that bridge as well."
DIAMONDBACKS 9, MARLINS 3: Arizona won its fourth consecutive game for the first time since the end of May, and right-hander Livan Hernandez picked up his first victory in 10 starts Tuesday at Chase Field. It was just the second time in the last 17 games that the Diamondbacks scored six or more runs.
Orlando Hudson hit a home run that helped trigger a four-run fourth inning, but replays appeared to show that a fan interfered with the ball by reaching a glove over the wall in left field. The homer stood after a dispute by the Marlins.
"I need this one bad," said Hernandez, who added he has been working with pitching coach Bryan Price on the side, trying to fix a problem with his sinker.
Dan Uggla, a former Diamondbacks minor-leaguer taken in the Rule V draft, had two home runs for the Marlins.
--LHP Randy Johnson, who sounded as if he wasn't so sure about his immediate future after throwing a simulated game Tuesday in his attempt to return from a herniated disk in his back, on what he could offer the team down the stretch if healthy: "Obviously, if I can come back and pitch effectively, it's almost like they (the Diamondbacks) just made a trade. I missed a month of starts. To come back and be effective like I was at one time this year, I think that would be a big boost."
--RHP Livan Hernandez earned his first win in 10 starts Tuesday, but he allowed two more home runs, giving him a streak of yielding a homer in 11 starts. He now has allowed 21 homers, second most in the National League behind Houston's Woody Williams (22).
--Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin on RHP Jose Valverde, who has a single-season, career-high 31 saves so far in 2007: "When the closer first came in (vogue), 20 or 25 saves was kind of the standard. Then somebody got to 30 and that was like ridiculous. Then (Bobby) Thigpen, I think, got 55 or whatever it was (actually 57, which remains the record). But to have 30-something saves at this point in time of the season, 30-plus saves, is phenomenal."
--RHP Micah Owings has had two pinch-hitting appearances this season, including one Monday night against the Marlins when he drew a walk off LHP Dontrelle Willis, and manager Bob Melvin said it probably won't be the last time it happens. There might even be an opportunity for him to play first base or the outfield in an extra-inning game if the situation calls for it.
"I think you do see that out of him," Melvin said. "He'd be the first guy to volunteer for it. He'd volunteer to play first base every day that he's not pitching. That's just the way he is. He comes into the dugout now with his spikes on to start the game. He wants to play."
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