An exceptionally tall visitor was hanging around Arizona Diamondbacks practice Monday chatting with coaches and players.
Randy Johnson, who pitched for Arizona from 1999-2004 and then again in 2007 and 2008, is always welcome to be around the team, according to manager Kirk Gibson.
“You know we talk about the Diamondback way, and tradition is a part of that,” he said. “These guys have accomplished a lot here, and how did they do it?
“It’s a resource, certainly a resource. It’s good affirmation to good times. So, the guys that have played here and busted their ass are certainly welcome, always.”
Johnson is one of those guys.
“We want him to feel welcome and comfortable here, come back,” the skipper said.
Gibson said Johnson has plenty to offer a team like the Diamondbacks and would like to see the “Big Unit,” as Monday was Johnson’s first appearance at Salt River Fields. The hope is he’ll be around more often.
“He’s welcome to come out whenever he wants, watch whenever he wants, interject whenever he wants,” Gibson said. “He certainly told those guys (his players) some great stories on how he reflected upon himself, his performance and how he could get better.”
Johnson is a five-time Cy Young Award winner, 10-time All-Star and a World Series champion. He should also be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when eligible in 2015.
And though he may have left the D-backs on uneasy terms in 2009 when he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants, it would seem that is water under the bridge for all parties involved.
“I sense he has a need to get back right now, he wants to get back,” Gibson said of Johnson. “Because of all the guys he’s talked about who gave to him.”