Big Unit unveiled at Giants FanFest

Big Unit unveiled at Giants FanFest

SAN FRANCISCO -- The intensity Randy Johnson exudes when he pitches is almost palpable. Saturday, he provided a glimpse into the ferocity that has helped him win 295 games, strike out 4,789 batters and capture five Cy Young Awards.

Prompted only three or four times by questions during a gathering with reporters Saturday at the KNBR 680/Giants FanFest, Johnson, 45, sustained a 25-minute dissertation on what he's all about. In short -- which is a strange thing to say about the 6-foot-10 left-hander -- Johnson insisted that he's never satisfied, despite his numerous achievements, and constantly drives himself to improve.

Some highlights from Johnson's talk:

On what he can pass along to younger pitchers:

"There's nothing in this game I haven't done. That's not to pat myself on the back. But I've lost eight games in a row. So I know the misery a pitcher can be in. That's a month and a half worth of starts. You're wondering whether you're ever going to win a ballgame. And then I've won 10 games in a row. I've had surgeries. I've had to battle back from those kind of things.

"I've had bad games. I know how you can mentally be dragging a little bit towards the end of the year. I know the demands that Tim [Lincecum] will have this year after winning the Cy Young. The things that I can tell him are the same things that I told Brandon Webb last year. The door is opening for Brandon Webb. The door is opening for a player like Tim Lincecum. ...

"I won a Cy Young in Seattle and then I came to Arizona and won four in a row. Ironically enough, my best year statistically wasn't until I won my fifth Cy Young. And I brought that up only because I could have been very content with what I was getting out of the years prior because I was being rewarded as the best pitcher. But I would have been cheating myself. Every year I wanted to be better."

On the type of pitcher he is now:

"At this point in my career, my ability and my skills may have diminished, but not my edge or my desire to still be good. As long as I have that, that's what motivates me. That's what motivated me and that's why I was so dangerous, I suppose, because I could throw 100 mph and I wanted to win. Now I still want to win, but I can win throwing 92 and it's made me a better pitcher, as well."

On the possibility of winning his 300th game with the Giants instead of with Seattle or Arizona, where he spent most of his career:

"I feel bad in some regards. I've done a lot in Arizona; it would have been fitting to do it there. But I also feel like this is the next-best scenario. It's not like I'm not familiar with the San Francisco Giants. I've pitched against them quite a bit. I'm familiar with the ballpark. I'm familiar with the Bay Area. It's where I grew up. It's as good of a last chapter, if you will, of my career that there could be."

On whether 2009 will be his last season:

"I should say, I guess, maybe we're getting close to the end of the book. It doesn't say 'The End.' There's not a blank page yet. We're still filling the page up. The author's still at work. But I will admit we're coming close.

"But I think the reason I'm excited about this year is because I'm healthy. I had someone look me in the eyes three years ago, I think, and say, 'You are done.' They were basing that on [me having] a 5.00 ERA. I also told them that I had a herniated disk in my back and I couldn't even tie my shoes, so how do you expect me to go out and pitch? Yet I'm still willing to take epidurals in my back. I haven't had a 5.00 ERA since, because my back has been surgically fixed. I won't have one this year, I will guarantee you that. If I do, I'll retire."

In summary:

"Now you see the mind-set that I've had. You can only imagine that mind-set going along with a 98-mph fastball."

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.