ATLANTA - Randy Johnson has allowed three home runs just three times in his past 85 games. Two of those occasions are the only two games he was caught by Rod Barajas.
Johnson on Friday had a batterymate of someone other than Chad Moeller for the first time since July 11, 2002. Moeller had caught Johnson's past 25 starts, including last year's postseason.
Barajas — who suffered a bruised right thumb on a eighth-inning foul ball — and Johnson said they worked fine together, and Johnson did not use it as any sort of excuse for his poor outing.
X-rays on Barajas’ thumb showed no break, and trainer Paul Lessard held out hope Barajas could play today. Barajas, who snapped an 0-for-13 skid with an RBI double in the eighth inning, said the thumb was “very, very sore” and “it's tough to move it around.”
Johnson has been known to ask for a change in his personal catcher before. Damian Miller was Johnson's regular receiver before he went on the disabled list last summer, at which point Moeller caught a few games and stuck as Johnson's choice. By mid-November, Miller was traded.
Asked if the impetus behind Friday's change in pairing originated with Johnson, manager Bob Brenly paused four seconds before answering, “No.” Brenly did say he “had some conversations” with Johnson on the decision.
“I can throw to anybody,” Johnson said.
Arizona made sure all its catchers worked with all its pitchers in spring training for just such a reason.
Brenly — who started Moeller on Thursday to try to get him “jump-started offensively” — said Friday he was trying “to shake things loose a little bit” by playing Barajas.
Barajas had not worked with Johnson in a regular-season game since catching a scoreless eighth inning on June 5, 2002, after Moeller came out for a pinch hitter.
Johnson's previous start with Barajas was not a particularly good one: On April 8, 2001, Johnson allowed St. Louis nine runs on 11 hits (three homers) in 5 1/3 innings.
In the 25 consecutive starts Johnson worked with Moeller, Johnson was 15-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 178 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks’ original lineup Friday did not include Junior Spivey. But Spivey, inserted a few hours before game time, made the decision pay off.
Spivey went 2-for-2 with his 11th homer and two walks. He now has a .607 career average (17-for-28) at Turner Field and a .547 mark against Atlanta overall.
“I'm making progress,” said Spivey, who raised his average to .256, its highest level since July 22.
Craig Counsell had been slated to play, but Brenly changed the lineup after Counsell took early extra batting practice.
“He's just trying to find something at the plate right now,” Brenly said. “We decided to go ahead and scratch him since he put in all that extra work today.
“Junior's had real good success against this team in this ballpark and hopefully we can get him started a little bit too.”
Shea Hillenbrand, who went 2-for-5 to end an 0-for-15 slide and also picked up his first RBI in 21 at-bats, said being given Thursday off by Brenly helped him correct his swing.
“I feel 100 percent different today,” he said. “I'm back to my comfort zone. I'm not thinking about my mechanics.”
Oscar Villarreal has pitched three straight days for the third time this month. Stephen Randolph has also worked each of the past three days, his first time doing so.
As a Diamondback, Raul Mondesi is 0-for-11 with men in scoring position. He has gone 26 at-bats without an RBI.