PHOENIX (AP) -Randy Johnson will return to the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation on Thursday, 10 days after he was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back.
The 43-year-old lefty, who went on the disabled list June 11, will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final game of a four-game series at Chase Field.
Johnson declared himself ready after he had no lingering problems coming off a sharp, two-inning simulated game on Monday.
``Today was a big day,'' said Johnson, who is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA. ``I didn't feel that bad, relatively speaking. It's nothing that I haven't felt already - last year when I was pitching or earlier this year.''
Johnson said he hoped he wasn't in for a repeat of the last two seasons, when he struggled with back problems with the New York Yankees. Johnson had back surgery last October and started this season on the disabled list.
``I don't know how much longer I can pitch with it,'' Johnson said. ``So I'm going in with a positive frame of mind. I'll go as hard as I can as long as I can. When I was in New York, I pitched through a lot of discomfort.''
Johnson has had two back operations. Asked if another one was possible, he said, ``I guess I can always fall back on surgery. I prefer not to, obviously. I've only made nine starts coming off my last surgery and I have probably about 18 more. Let's just get through the Dodger start and not kind of look too far down the road.''
``That's what I'm preparing myself for right now, and then I'll deal with whatever happens after the Dodger start,'' Johnson said. ``Those are the questions that I have and there's no answers.''
Manager Bob Melvin said he would keep an eye on Johnson's pitch count, but didn't have a specific number in mind.
``He's got a bulging disk in there, but I'll tell you what I saw (in the simulated game) was pretty good,'' Melvin said. ``It just depends on how he feels. In the past it's bothered him sometimes and he's pitched through it, and other times he's felt good.''

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