Big Unit offers advice to D-backs Minor Leaguers

Big Unit offers advice to D-backs Minor Leaguers

Five-time Cy Young winner Randy Johnson will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, but for now his focus is on helping the D-backs' organization to develop its next great pitcher.

Johnson, currently serving as a special assistant to the president and CEO for the D-backs, stopped by the club's Triple-A affiliate in Reno, Nev., on Friday to talk to the Reno Aces' players prior to their 2015 home opener. While he'll be honored in Cooperstown later this summer for his pitching prowess, Johnson's advice on Friday certainly wasn't limited only to potential future Major League hurlers, as he instead advised all of Reno's Minor Leaguers that putting in the hard work now is more important than ever.

"It took me a while to understand that," Johnson said, according to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal. "So all I'm trying to do is have kids work a little harder now so they can understand that wherever you're going, you'll get there quicker based on your hard work."

Johnson also understands that the game isn't quite the same as when he was working his way through the Minors, with increased awareness placed on limiting pitch counts and protecting young pitchers. With pitchers nowadays having less pitches to work with each time out, and often less total innings over the course of a season, Johnson reminded the Major League hopefuls that every pitch carries an added significance.

"Get the most out of those pitches, and dig down deep," Johnson said. "Understand that you don't know when your career is going to be over, so why would you not give a maximum effort every time you're out there?"

Johnson is one of three former D-backs players, along with Luis Gonzalez and J.J. Putz, serving within the organization in his current special assistant role.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.