Notes: Johnson offers his wisdom

Notes: Johnson offers his wisdom to teammates

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Randy Johnson was speaking to reporters Sunday, but his words were directed toward the young players in the D-backs clubhouse.

His message was simple: I'm here if you want to talk.

Johnson was a hard-throwing young pitcher who often didn't know where his pitches were going to end up. He wanted to get better, so he sought out those he thought he could learn from. Whether it was Nolan Ryan or former Rangers pitching coach Tom House, he picked their brains.

"I learned because I was inquisitive and wanted to learn, and sometimes to do that, you have to go outside and ask other places," Johnson said. "So I'd like to think that I'm a resource here for some of the young kids. Some of the things that I would tell them would hopefully just speed the process up."

While the D-backs do have experienced pitchers like Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis in the rotation, they also have younger hurlers competing for the final couple of rotation spots. Johnson, who is targeting his return from offseason back surgery for early April, didn't limit his offer to just pitchers either. Any of his teammates should feel free to ask him questions.

"I know when I was younger, I was inquisitive and I wanted to learn, and in order to want to learn, you have to go out and get that information," Johnson said. "People don't know you want to learn, so you have to go out and go to the appropriate outlets to get that. Someone might just be dying to learn something here, but I can't read minds as well as I used to. We're all here on the same team here, trying to get better. Obviously, if I were to see something in-game, I might say something."

Speaking of Johnson: The Big Unit threw 61 pitches in his fourth bullpen session of the spring Sunday and for the first time mixed in some sliders and off-speed pitches.

"Today was a pretty productive day as far as getting on the mound and throwing everything I've got and getting a feel for what I've got at this point," he said. "I was pretty pleased considering I hadn't thrown my breaking ball at all until today and it was good at times. Today we made strides in certain areas and continue to do that. That's what I'm looking for."

Johnson will next throw a bullpen Wednesday in Surprise, Ariz., before the D-backs play the Rangers. After that, he will likely face hitters in a batting-practice session.

Still more Randy: Johnson, 43, said that he would like to do some part-time coaching similar to what Jay Bell currently does for the D-backs once his career comes to a close. Bell is an advisor to manager Bob Melvin and helps the club during Spring Training and occasionally during the season.

"I think younger kids are like sponges and they are dying for information, some of them, and some of them already feel like they know enough to get by," Johnson said. "But I'd love to help people in some capacity if they want it."

Rarity: The D-backs turned a triple play in the second inning Sunday. With runners on first and second, Seattle's Michael Garciaparra lined a shot to shortstop Stephen Drew's left. Drew nabbed it, stepped on second for one force and then fired to first to triple up Michael Wilson.

"I was just reacting," Drew said. "It happened so quick. That's a unique thing. Even if [second baseman Orlando Hudson] had done it, I still would have thought it was neat, because I've seen it on TV once, but I've never been a part of anything like that."

Gonzalez vs. Owings: Two of the candidates for the final two spots in the rotation threw in the first game Sunday.

Edgar Gonzalez allowed a run on four hits over two innings while Micah Owings worked two scoreless innings and pitched his way out of a first-and-third, one-out situation.

"Micah showed me something in that he got out of that one jam with a runner on third and less than two outs," Melvin said. "He had a couple of punchouts and kind of reached back and competed a little harder and got those two outs, and that's a lot of what we heard about him, that he could make the big pitch and is quite the competitor, and we saw a little bit of that."

Sign here: The D-backs on Sunday announced the signings of all 25 of their players with Major League experience of three years or less.

Up next: The D-backs will play host to the Giants on Monday with Enrique Gonzalez getting the start for Arizona. He'll be opposed by Barry Zito.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.