When Randy Johnson underwent surgery to repair the herniated disk in his lower back in October, he was told there was a five percent chance of the problem recurring.
He found out Monday the 1-in-20 chance had been realized and that his stay on the disabled list might be prolonged. Johnson laughed in the face of the news.
“I guess now we know why I didn’t take the two-hour bus ride (from Philadelphia) to New York,” he said.
Johnson, on the disabled list since June 11 with a tight glute, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Friday and met with his personal back specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins, in Los Angeles on Monday.
Tests revealed he had indeed re-injured the same surgically repaired disk.
Johnson does not know exactly when he suffered the injury, but it’s possible he’s pitched since the injury occurred. He’s given up five earned runs in 29 2/3 innings over his last five starts.
He earned the win in four of the five games.
“To an extent it was a shock to all of us because of the way he’s been pitching,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “If this thing’s been with him for a while and he’s out there, there’s no reason to think his performance will be lesser (when he returns).”
With a day off Thursday, the Diamondbacks will not need a fifth starter again until Tuesday. If Johnson is not ready by then (Melvin said such a quick recovery “is probably a stretch”), the start will fall to Edgar Gonzalez, who limited Baltimore to one run on two hits in five innings of a win in Johnson’s place on Saturday.
The team will wait until Johnson throws today to decide how hard to push him toward making the June 26 start.
As the interior of a herniated disk bulges out of place, it exerts painful pressure on the sciatic nerve. As a result, the decision to start may depend on how much pain Johnson experiences — and how well he can overcome it.
“You’re at the mercy, going out there, of your nerve,” Johnson recalled his doctor telling him. “You can go out and pitch and your body’s going to tell you how much and when you can.”
Q BACK IN FIELD
After one day on the bench, struggling right fielder Carlos Quentin was back in the lineup Tuesday.
His season average had slipped to .205 — its lowest since May 24 — following an 0-for-4 outing Sunday. In 10 starts between June 1 and Tuesday, he hadn’t had multiple hits in a game and he’d gone hitless five times.
“He can be tough on himself,” Melvin said. “There are some guys you need to kick in the butt a little bit. He’s not one of those guys. You’ve got to encourage him and stay positive with him. He wants to help his team is what he wants to do.”
Despite his struggles, Quentin is helping the team when his teammates get on base.
Heading into Tuesday’s game, he was batting .297 with runners in scoring position.
ON THE MEND
Outfielder Jeff DaVanon, out all season while recovering from shoulder and ankle surgeries, has resumed baseball activities — again.
He hit Monday and threw Tuesday but no timetable has been established for his return. DaVanon played in an extended spring training game in mid-May but was shut down when he experienced discomfort in his shoulder.
“He’s back doing baseball stuff, and he’s swinging left-handed,” Melvin said. “So hopefully that’s the start of something.”