Former Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson, who signed with San Francisco in the offseason, had some fun with his ex-teammates on and off the field when he started against them March 3rd.
Johnson struck out seven of the 12 batters he faced in three scoreless innings. He got six of his strikeouts on sliders, a pitch he usually does not break out until later in the spring. He gave up two hits, both singles, one by Conor Jackson.
Johnson playfully sent a messenger to the D-backs' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium to seek out Jackson before the game for payment on a wager involving a game between USC and California. Johnson attended USC, and Jackson went to Cal.
"I wanted my money, or he was going to have a rough at-bat," Johnson said.
"That's why I swung at the first pitch," said Jackson, who singled to right field.
Johnson called Jackson the D-backs' best hitter, and he also was complimentary of reserve catcher Miguel Montero, who grounded out to Johnson in his lone at-bat in the exhibition game after catching 20 of Johnson's 31 starts last season.
"I like him. That's why he caught me. He's a good catcher. He's eager to learn. He listened to me. I don't know everything. I don't claim that. But he wanted to learn," Johnson said. "I think if he were to play every day, he would hit 25 home runs, bat .265, .270 and probably have 65, 70 RBIs. He's that good of a hitter."
Johnson's comments are somewhat surprising given the statistics of how he has worked with Montero versus primary Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder. With Montero catching, opponents have stepped to the plate against Johnson .524 times, hitting .276 with a .769 OPS. With Snyder behind the plate, opposing batters have 487 plate appearances against Johnson and have hit just .232 with a .589 OPS.
--The Diamondbacks renewed the contract of 3B Mark Reynolds after the two sides could not come to a resolution during negotiations on a 2009 salary. Reynolds will make $422,500 this year after playing for $396,500 last season. He led the D-backs with 28 home runs and 97 RBIs but also led the major leagues with 204 strikeouts and 35 errors. He was the first player since Roy Smalley in 1950 to lead the majors in the latter two categories. "We just couldn't agree," Reynolds said.
--RHP Brandon Webb gave up four hits and six runs (five earned) in 1 1/3 innings his first start of the spring March 4th, a 19-4 loss to the Mexico team playing in the World Baseball Classic. Webb was scratched from his previous scheduled start on February 26th after feeling tightness in his right forearm while playing catch the day before, although he said he had no forearm issues against Mexico. He gave up a three-run home run to Jerry Hairston Jr. and was removed after hitting his 40-pitch limit.
--RHP Max Scherzer, who reported to spring training with right shoulder inflammation that required a cortisone shot, is behind the other pitchers in camp. He is scheduled to throw one more bullpen session before his first live batting practice session, and it might be a stretch to believe that Scherzer would be ready for his first scheduled regular-season start on April 14 against St. Louis, the D-backs' eighth game of the season.
--RHP Jon Garland started in a "B" game against Colorado on March 4th in order to work on his technique. He threw 25 pitches and gave up two singles but was unscored upon in two innings while concentrating on maintaining a good rhythm instead of rushing with his arm. Garland gave up a walk and a homer in two innings in his first official spring start.
--LHP Doug Davis revealed that he has been bothered by a nerve condition in his left arm for the past five years. However, he said he has been able to deal with the problem thanks to medication. Davis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer on March 28th, 2008, and he made two regular-season starts before undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous thyroid April 10. He returned May 23rd, giving up one run and five hits in an 11-1 victory over Atlanta and finished the season 6-8 with a 4.32 ERA. Since 2004, he is fourth in the NL with 162 starts, fifth with 96 quality starts, sixth with 972 innings, and seventh with 789 strikeouts.
--The D-backs had a three-day break from Cactus League play the first week of March, hosting Team Mexico on March 3rd before an off day on March 4th and a trip to Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, for a return game against Team Mexico in its final tuneup before the World Baseball Classic. The D-backs drew 9,407 for their home game in Tucson against Mexico and have made marketing inroads in Sonora, the northernmost Mexican state that abuts Arizona.
DIAMOND STAT: 2-7 -- The Diamondbacks' record in head-to-head games against the Dodgers after Los Angeles acquired OF Manny Ramirez at the July 31 trade deadline last year. The Dodgers overtook the D-backs to win the NL West by two games.
QUOTABLE: "(Ramirez) is without a doubt one of the most talented players in the game and carried them last season. But I like the talent we have from 1-8 in the batting order on a daily basis. His return there will make the division even more interesting and will help escalate a rivalry that is in its infancy." -- D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall, on whether the Dodgers' re-signing of LF Manny Ramirez hurts the Arizona's NL West chances this season.
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