Lefty right at home - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Lefty right at home

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Posted: Saturday, April 1, 2006 2:07 am | Updated: 2:05 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For most of Friday, Randy Johnson looked right at home. He tooled around town in his black Hummer, met friends, and worked out in his favorite gym.

Only when he hit the park did it seem all wrong. The House That Randy Rocked was spun 180 degrees.

Wrong clubhouse. Wrong dugout. Wrong number.

His hair was too short and his locker cubicle too small.

But you can take away the clubhouse lounge chair and you can dress Johnson in a pin-striped No. 41, 10 numbers low, but you cannot take away his memories.

“The greatest gratification I ever got being a player was being part of a World Series team here and doing what it took to win a World Series,” said Johnson, back in town with the New York Yankees for a two-game exhibition series with the Diamondbacks.

“While I was a Diamondback there were more great moments than there ever were in my career. I have a lot of great memories here. Nothing will ever change that.”

Johnson, who lives in Paradise Valley, was visiting for the first time since his January 2004, trade to the Yankees, in which the D-Backs acquired Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey and Dioner Navarro, all of whom have since been spun off.

He treated it like old times, too, parking in the players' lot, schmoozing with the security guards near the D-Backs home clubhouse and taking a walk down the hallway that commemorates his four Cy Young Awards (1999-2002) and his four All-Star appearances.

"It's fun coming back to where you played. It was fun coming back to Seattle when we had the opportunity to play there. It is no different, other than I'm not pitching and these games don't count,'' Johnson said.

"Hope that we'll get to the World Series and the Diamondbacks have a great year.''

Johnson still talks to D-Backs president Rich Dozer, and was sure to call Jerry Colangelo — the former CEO who lured him here with a four-year, $52 million deal — with wishes of health when Colangelo underwent surgery.

"I definitely follow this team, the moves they've made, and obviously wish the best for them,'' Johnson said.

"As much fun as it was, the run the team had and I individually had here, I never really had a chance to get too caught up in it. It happened so quickly.

"It was almost expected of me that I go out and do well, like it is still expected of me to do the same thing now. So I never really got too caught up in what I was doing from a personal standpoint.”

Johnson, 42, still expects excellence of himself as he stalks Roger Clemens for No. 2 on the career strikeout list, entering the season with 4,372. (Clemens has 4,502.) “When you come in and put on the Yankee uniform, there is a lot more expected because of what this franchise has done,” Johnson said.

“(Former pitching coach) Mel Stottlemyre told me last year there were two seasons, the regular season and postseason. There are not too many teams out there that consider that being the case.”

Johnson was 17-8 with a 3.79 ERA with the Yankees, but the home fans still booed when he was removed in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Game 3 of the ALDS game.

“How many teams consider it a poor season when you don't win the World Series? I've only been to one. I was very fortunate to do it here,” Johnson said.

“Did it shock me? No. It just comes with the territory.”

Johnson said he might be more prepared this season, saying he feels like he is as “physically and mentally prepared as best I can be.

“I'm actually a little worried,” Johnson added, dryly. “The reporters who have covered me here realize that I never had too many good spring trainings in Arizona.”

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