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