Arizona Diamondbacks Option RHP Jailen Peguero to Tucson (Triple-A). [4/13] Activate LHP Randy Johnson from the 15-day DL. [4/14]
As the great philosopher Siouxsie Sioux once observed (with apologies to John Lennon, naturally) ,
Dear Prudence/won’t you come out to play?
Dear Prudence/breathe a brand new day
The sun is up/the sky is blue
Prudence is always going to be something of a watchword for however much more of Randy Johnson’s career we’re going to get to enjoy watching, as he does his best to propel Arizona to another division title while perhaps also creeping that much closer to that pesky 300th career win. Not that such a thing should matter, beyond the feel-goodness of it, as there should no doubt over his plaque joining those of all those famous players he was unapologetically ignorant of back when he was an Expo (and back when there were such things as Expos).
With Doug Davis’ departure to have his thyroid cancer operated upon (successfully) and the time required for Davis to subsequently recover, the timing of the Big Unit’s return to the Snakes rotation couldn’t really have worked out any better than it did. If you’re going to work somebody back into a big league rotation, is there any team you’d prefer to making it an assignment against San Francisco? Johnson did reasonably well, facing 22 batters in five frames, allowing three runs in part because of some early wildness and some defensive gaffes, and perhaps lucking into a scoreless fifth in his last inning after a Ray Durham line drive doubled off Aaron Rowand after the token mighty Giant’s leadoff double.
Not only did Johnson get to draw an inital outing against the feeble Giants, Thursday’s offday means he could get a full week’s worth of rest before seeing the Giants again next Tuesday. As Will Carroll will no doubt be following closely, it’ll be a matter of Johnson’s ability to recover after making his starts as much as anything else, because you know that Bob Melvin and pitching coach Bryan Price will be monitoring the starts themselves with extreme prudence.*
Now, all that said, this isn’t a proper “Sunday starter” role, any more than Johnson’s being permanently consigned to Mike Morgan-style five-inning assignments for his turns. It’s instead a reflection of the benefit of having a number of virtues contributing to a decision tree that will allow the D’backs to use Johnson carefully: the aforementioned favorable schedule, a hot start, and a rotation that not only has both Brandon Webb and Dan Haren performing to expectations, but also has gotten the benefit of Micah Owings delivering quality starts in his matchups against Arizona’s top intradivisional rivals, Colorado and LA. If Owings really is ready to build off of his hot finish last season, then Johnson drops to almost more of an El Duque-like significance in terms of Arizona’s fortunes, a weapon to be kept polished up and in working order, but not worn out or overheated with overuse. Add in Davis’ likely return sometime by the end of May, and starts looking every bit the unit that Arizona can win a division with.
Now, if only they’d get around to alternating Owings at first base with Conor Jackson at first base, instead of Chris Burke…
* Any similarity between the term “extreme prudence” and an extremely optionable Dana Carvey/Bush I star vehicle is entirely accidental, so apologies for any confusion created by its use.