Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Friday, July 27, 2007
Johnson set for season-ending surgery, has 'no intention at this time of retiring'

Associated Press

Randy Johnson

Johnson

PHOENIX -- Randy Johnson will have season-ending back surgery and intends to be back for the Arizona Diamondbacks at spring training next year.

"I have no intention at this time of retiring," he said at a news conference Friday. "I'll cross the bridge of surgery and be willing to go through the process of rehabilitation again because I know I can still pitch. And I love pitching. It's what I've been doing since I was 7 years old."

It marks the second year in a row that the Big Unit will have an operation on his troublesome back. It will be the third back operation of his career.

"He tried to work his way through it," Melvin said, "but it just didn't get any better."

The 43-year-old left-hander was traded to the Diamondbacks from the New York Yankees in the offseason, signing a $26 million, two-year contract with Arizona, the franchise where he experienced his greatest success in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The five-time Cy Young Award winner made his way back to the rotation after extensive rehabilitation. He had several strong starts but struggled in his later outings, then he was diagnosed with a herniated disk.

Johnson went on the disabled list, worked his way through a pair of bullpen sessions, then threw 42 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday. Afterward, he felt the effects of the injured disk, pain that he feels all the way down his right, or landing, leg.

"I can deal with the pain," he said, "but the symptoms aren't allowing me to pitch. When I bend over, my hamstring with the nerve in there just feels like it's on fire. To do that repeated times makes my leg week ... Everything just starts kind of shutting down."

One of the best left-hander in baseball history, Johnson is determined not to go out this way.

"I surely don't want to end my career because I had surgery," he said. "I would much rather call it a career being healthy and being ineffective and say `You know what? I can't do it anymore. But that hasn't been the case."

The operation will take place next Friday in Los Angeles.

"I think this one is a little more serious than the one he had last year," Melvin said.

Johnson had surgery last October and had to start this season on the disabled list. Having an operation now, he said, will give him three more months to heal for next season.

"Hopefully we'll see the effects of that," Johnson said, "and hopefully this doesn't occur again."

Johnson has 288 wins and wants to reach 300 before he calls it quits. During a brief stretch this season, he was easily Arizona's best pitcher. That stint bolstered his confidence.

"For the short period of time that it was," Johnson said, "I was pitching as good as anybody, so I guess I still love being competitive, and I know that I can still pitch."