Johnson Isn't Finished as a Diamondback

Johnson Isn't Finished as a Diamondback

Randy Johnson's playing career may be over, but his time as an Arizona Diamondback may not be. The Big Unit has a personal-services contract with the D-backs that includes at least one year of post-retirement employment, and he has expressed an interest in coaching.

Hall of Famer-in-waiting Randy Johnson put the Diamondbacks on his back while winning four Cy Young awards from 1999-2002 and leading them to their only World Series victory in 2001.  Even after his retirement on Tuesday, it appears he will put on a D-backs cap at least one more time.

Johnson, who retired on January 5th with 303 career victories and 4,875 career strikeouts, has a personal-services contract with the D-backs that includes at least one year of post-retirement employment, although whether he will be brought aboard this season remains uncertain.

Johnson mentioned a desire to get into coaching in the teleconference announcing his retirement, and he has said several times in the last few years that he takes pleasure in visiting with younger pitchers about the art. He played his final season in San Francisco after failing to re-sign with the D-backs as a free agent the previous winter, but played eight of his 22 major league seasons with the D-backs.

"Right now I just want to kind of enjoy this retirement, see what retirement is all about.  I'm sure in due time I will be itching to do something baseball-wise," Johnson figured.  "The one thing that I've really enjoyed doing the last few years is help people. I really had a lot enjoyment being in San Francisco this year and talking with Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez. I think I would like to coach down the road."

Cain went 14-8 with a 2.89 ERA in 2009, setting a career high in victories and a career full-season low in ERA. Sanchez threw a no-hitter July 10 and finished 8-12 with a 4.24 ERA, his lowest in four major league seasons. Johnson was 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA in a season cut short because of a torn rotator cuff.

"Randy has meant a great deal to the organization, and we thank him for all of his contributions," D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall said. "An important and successful part of his Hall of Fame career was spent in a Diamondbacks uniform, and we are grateful that he was here to create so many memories.

"Contractually, we made it possible for Randy to start a new chapter once again with this franchise when his playing days came to an end. I look forward to sitting down with him soon to entertain possible fits."

Luis Gonzalez returned to the organization last fall after retiring, and former D-backs Matt  Williams and Jay Bell, among others, have worked in spring training as instructors.

SNAKE BYTES

--It remains to be seen which hat the Hall of Fame will select for LHP Randy Johnson's plaque, Seattle or Arizona, but Johnson did his best aggregate work with the D-backs. In eight seasons in Arizona, Johnson went 118-62 with 2.83 ERA in 232 starts. He had 2,077 strikeouts in 1,630 1/3 innings, an average of 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He won four consecutive Cy Young Awards in Arizona and also had a 4.99:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks with the D-backs, by far the best ratio of his career.

--RHP Brandon Webb cut short his normal offseason routine to return to Phoenix to continue a rehabilitation program with D-backs trainer Ken Crenshaw. Webb usually spends more time in Kentucky, where he prepares for the season by playing catch with his father, Philip, while also spending time hunting. Webb pitched only four innings last season before finally opting for shoulder surgery in early August because of nagging pain.

--OF Eric Byrnes is not participating in the Dominican winter league playoffs after leaving Licey late in mid-December, when he was told his playing time would be cut in favor of OF Timo Perez. Byrnes hit .250 with two doubles and three RBI in only five regular-season games after arriving in early December. The idea of returning to Licey, where Byrnes had been given the nickname "Captain America" in a previous stop, was to build up at-bats after getting only 307 with the D-backs and Class AAA Reno in 2009. He missed almost two months with a fractured left hand suffered in late June. He and his $11 million contract are available in trade.

--The D-backs and White Sox were scheduled to play a charity game in Tucson in March but have cancelled, offering to pay Pima County $50,000 to make up for the loss in revenue. The D-backs and White Sox shared a two-team spring training facility in Tucson for 11 seasons, beginning in the D-backs' inaugural year in 1998, before the White Sox broke their lease with Pima County and moved last spring to a new facility that they share with the Dodgers in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb. The D-backs will leave Tucson after this spring for a new facility they will share with Colorado on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community adjacent to Scottsdale.

--While the signings of 2B Kelly Johnson and RHP Bob Howry brought the D-backs' 2010 committed payroll to about $75 million, the front office still is attempting to add a veteran reserve first baseman or outfielder. The D-backs remain interested in OF Randy Winn, with whom they have talked, but appear more in need of a first baseman if they determine that 1B Brandon Allen would be better served by opening the season at Class AAA Reno.

DIAMOND STAT:
10.6 -- LHP Randy Johnson's career average for strikeouts in nine innings, the best among starting pitchers in major league history

QUOTABLE:
"The time I spent in Arizona was pivotal, because that was the greatest run I ever had." -- LHP Randy Johnson, in his retirement teleconference.


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