Big Unit feels good in simulated game
Lefty would be valuable addition to Giants bullpen
SAN FRANCISCO -- Randy Johnson felt comfortable Monday while facing teammates in a simulated game, but the true test of whether he'll be activated from the disabled list will come Tuesday as he and the Giants gauge how his left shoulder feels.Johnson, who has been sidelined since July 5, threw 53 pitches in the equivalent of two innings to Jesus Guzman, John Bowker, Ryan Garko, Kevin Frandsen and Ryan Rohlinger. Pitching to hitters for the first time since he tore his rotator cuff, the 46-year-old hit Bowker with his ninth pitch but appeared to gain velocity and command as his outing progressed. "I asked [Bowker] if he was all right and he said he was fine," Johnson said. Johnson believes that he won't need another throwing session to prove he's fit. "Hopefully this is another step toward being activated," Johnson said. "Today I threw a little more than I did in the past, so overall I felt pretty good." He noted that he anticipates no physical setbacks, since he has been throwing off a mound for 2 1/2 weeks. Manager Bruce Bochy seemed suitably impressed, though he said that due to Johnson's pitch count, the 303-game winner would not be activated during the Colorado series. "He should feel good where he's at," Bochy said. Frandsen was the only Giant to put a ball in play, lining a single to center field in his first at-bat. "His changeup was solid, and he threw a couple of really good sliders," Frandsen said. Once Johnson's activated, he'll be used as a reliever and is unlikely to rejoin the starting rotation, given the relatively scant time he has left to build up arm strength. Though he has never pitched regularly out of the bullpen, he anticipated a smooth transition to the role. "This game's all about adjustments. I've been making adjustments for 22 years. So I don't see it being a problem," Johnson said. "I still have to get hitters out. Actually, it might play to my advantage because initially I'll probably be pitching only one inning. It's not like I can turn the lineup over four or five times." Johnson could be a useful complement to Jeremy Affeldt, since Bochy's only left-handed relief alternatives are rookies Dan Runzler and Madison Bumgarner, who will move to the bullpen now that Tim Lincecum has resumed pitching. "We're playing some teams now that have a lot of left-handed hitters," Johnson said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.