|Big Unit overcomes shaky start in minor league tuneup|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 April 2007 17:24|
The 43-year-old left-hander, who had back surgery in October, allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven in a start for Triple-A Tucson against Salt Lake. He threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes.
On a windy night in the desert, the five-time Cy Young Award winner looked shaky early on, giving up hits to four of the first eight Bees he faced.
But he soon found his rhythm, striking out four in a row in the third and fourth innings.
The game's second batter, Jeff Mathis, hit a double over the center fielder's head. Brandon Wood followed with a liner through the box that nearly hit Johnson and drove in Mathis.
Johnson gave up another run in the second. He gave up a bloop single to Mike Eylward, a double down the right field line to Adam Pavkovich and a long sacrifice fly to center field by the No. 9 hitter, Coby Smith.
In the third, Johnson gave up back-to-back singles to Mathis and Wood but retired the next three hitters, two on strikeouts.
It was Johnson's second rehabilitation start for Triple-A Tucson, and his third overall.
If the Diamondbacks activate Johnson, his next start could come against San Diego on April 24 in Phoenix.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin has not said whose spot Johnson will take when he returns. The likeliest candidate to be dropped from the rotation is right-hander Edgar Gonzalez, who is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA and has given up nine runs in his last 13 1-3 innings.
Right-hander Micah Owings (1-1 with a 2.93 ERA) strained his hamstring Tuesday, and the club hasn't said whether he will make his scheduled start Sunday at San Francisco.