Notes: Johnson throws first BP session

Notes: Johnson throws first batting practice

PHOENIX -- Randy Johnson faced hitters for the first time Saturday as he threw a session of batting practice on a back field at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Chris Carter, Robby Hammock, Justin Upton, Rich Thompson, Mark Reynolds and Josh Ford took turns stepping into the cage as Johnson threw 53 pitches. They swung at 28 of them and didn't hit many hard.

Johnson will likely throw one more batting-practice session before pitching in a Cactus League game. That's when Johnson, recovering from offseason back surgery, will actually be able to set up hitters and get an feeling for where he's at.

"It was nice to face some hitters," he said. "I don't know what their plans are -- maybe do [batting practice] again and then after that hopefully everything will be fine. I think then and only then will I get a good idea of how good my stuff is at this point."

Johnson might be waiting for that, but the left-handed-hitting Carter, who posted a .301 mark with 30 doubles and 19 homers in Triple-A last year, already has his mind made up.

"He may be the best pitcher I've ever faced, and he's not even [100 percent]," Carter said. "He was hitting his spots, had a good arm angle and good movement. It was impressive."

General manager Josh Byrnes along with manager Bob Melvin were among those that watched Johnson.

"He was good," Byrnes said. "It was a good step to face hitters, and the important thing is that he feels OK. Throwing live BP for the first time is not a great barometer, other than of how he feels physically. It was good for him to cross that threshold."

Johnson now has five bullpen sessions and one batting practice under his belt.

"I'm pleased with where I'm at right now, as I have been with every step," Johnson said. "To not have any real setbacks other than maybe a stiff back here or there, I think that's to be expected, especially with the workload that I've been doing this quickly. I'm pretty pleased."

Familiar faces: Dana Eveland got the start Saturday against his former team and allowed just one run on four hits over three innings.

"Outstanding," Melvin said. "He gives up the one run, but threw the ball great. Had to pitch a little differently because they know him very well."

A couple of Brewers hitters said that Eveland didn't throw as hard as they remembered, but that he had better command. That could be a result of the left-hander's conscious effort to not overthrow, but it could also be because he had been suffering from the stomach flu in the days prior to his start.

Eveland is competing with Edgar Gonzalez, Enrique Gonzalez, Dustin Nippert, Evan MacLane and Micah Owings for the final spot in the Arizona rotation. There also figures to be an additional slot available if Johnson opens the year on the disabled list as expected.

"For me, it's not really about competition," Eveland said. "It's about getting my work done, and if the club thinks that I need to be in the big leagues with them, that I belong, then so be it. And if for some reason they feel like they need me back down in Triple-A to get some more work done, then that's the way I'm going to take it. But I'm not out there trying to overthrow the ball and try to do something that I'm not capable of doing to try and make the club."

On the other hand: Enrique Gonzalez was not as impressive as he gave up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Melvin and pitching coach Bryan Price, though, cautioned not to read too much into the raw numbers, because a lot of the hits, in their opinion, were not hit hard.

Up next: The D-backs will play a pair of games Sunday. Evan MacLane will start the regularly scheduled Cactus League contest at Tucson Electric Park, while Brandon Webb will start across the street at the team's Minor League complex in a "B" game against the White Sox, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. MST. The D-backs are throwing Webb in the "B" game to avoid having him face the Padres, a team he will see often during the regular season.

Greg Smith, D.J. Carrasco, Jailen Peguero, Casey Daigle and Jeff Bajenaru are also scheduled to pitch for Arizona.

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