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Giants may be getting Big Unit back

Giants may be getting Big Unit back

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants left-hander Randy Johnson hopes he'll be fit enough to be activated as a reliever after pitching a simulated game on Monday at AT&T Park.

Johnson, 46, has been sidelined since July 5, when he strained his throwing shoulder while performing against the Houston Astros. He has accelerated his recovery recently by throwing five times, by his count, off a bullpen mound near his Phoenix-area home.

"I'll see what everybody thinks," Johnson said on Saturday as he rejoined the team. "If what I have is usable, then I guess they'll activate me. I'll be able to help in whatever role I can help in."

Though Johnson said that he has strengthened his arm enough to throw 40 pitches, he won't know how effective he can be until he faces hitters.

"The [catcher's] glove is cracking, but it cracks when I throw 75 [mph] sometimes, too," Johnson jokingly said. "Maybe I'm just throwing it in the right place in his glove."

Johnson, who became the 24th pitcher to win 300 games on June 4, was 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 17 starts when he was sidelined. He obviously wishes he could have remained healthy, for the team's sake, if nothing else.

Said Johnson, "I've missed roughly about 10 starts. I know I probably wouldn't be 10-0, but I'm sure I'd have a few more wins. I'm sure the deficit wouldn't be what it is right now."

Johnson refused to disregard the Giants' postseason hopes, citing the example of the 1995 Seattle Mariners team he played for that won the American League West in a playoff against Anaheim after trailing the Angels by 13 games through Aug. 2. Footnote: Anaheim led Seattle by six games when the Mariners had 21 games left; the Giants, who entered Saturday with 21 games remaining, were 5 1/2 games behind Wild Card leader Colorado.

"As long as you're not mathematically eliminated, anything can be done," Johnson said.

As he did during his previous appearance at AT&T Park on Aug. 30, Johnson refused to commit to a decision regarding retirement. He indicated that his late-season performance could be a determining factor, assuming he pitches again.

"It's critical to see what I've got," Johnson said. "Right now is all I'm worried about."

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

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