Big Unit already tired of rehab - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Big Unit already tired of rehab

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Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2003 12:20 am | Updated: 1:34 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

It took more than four years for Diamondbacks observers to discover, but Randy Johnson on a set of crutches can be just as fiery and focused as he is on the mound.

The inactivity since Thursday’s surgery to clean out his right knee has left the Big Unit feeling “like a caged animal,” he said.

“All you have to do is call my house,” Johnson said on Monday, the first day of rehabilitation on the knee.

“To sit around the training room and get treatment takes away from what I want to be doing, which is getting ready to pitch. I’m going stir crazy, but at least I haven’t had any road rage yet.”

However, Johnson, who is likely out at least five more weeks, said he will not rush his rehab.

“It’s a slow process,” said Johnson, who turns 40 in September. “The fact that the swelling has gone down makes me optimistic.”

From April 12-27, Johnson was on the disabled list for the first time since back surgery seven years ago. He returned to make one start, striking out 12 in a win at the New York Mets. But on April 29, the knee swelled again, and an operation was prescribed.

Many felt age had crept up on Johnson (1-2 with a 6.94 ERA this season) after his 1996 back surgery. All that’s followed are four Cy Young Awards and a World Series ring.

Johnson said he will be eager to prove again that time has not gotten the best of him.

“I’m in as good of shape as I’ve ever been in,” Johnson said. “To say that I haven’t had any injuries of this kind the last four years speaks volumes, I think, about what I’ve been able to pitch through.”

QUICK RECOVERY

Usually, pitchers take at least a year to fully come back from “Tommy John” ligament-replacement surgery. For example, Arizona closer Matt Mantei, who had the operation in June 2001, didn’t start feeling like himself again until September of last season.

But on Sunday, there was Chris Capuano, less than a year removed from the surgery on his left elbow, pitching in a major league game for the first time. On Monday, Capuano said he’s been feeling 100 percent since after his first couple of starts this season for Tucson.

“The recovery time specified was between 10 and 12 months,” Capuano said. “I worked really hard in the offseason to get it as close to 10 months as I could.  . . .

"In Tucson, I felt for the first time that I was really letting the ball go like I did (before the injury).”

Sunday was the first anniversary of the elbow injury that sent Capuano under the knife. He had surgery on May 17, 2002.

“I expected to be back and expected to be strong,” Capuano said. “I didn’t expect to be in the big leagues (a year later). If you’d told me that, I would have said you were crazy.”

WEIRD INJURY

Reliever Bret Prinz, on the 60-day disabled list with a groin injury, recently suffered a minor laceration on his left (non-throwing) hand. . . when he fell through a foldout chair that collapsed while he was watching a softball game.

“I’m taking over B.A.’s role,” Prinz said, referring to Brian Anderson, the former D-Backs pitcher known for getting into such, ah, unique incidents.

SHORT HOPS

When Curt Schilling came back from batting practice on Monday, a jersey was in his locker — a Phillies jersey, the result of a prank by teammates.

Philadelphia is Schilling’s former team. It has been speculated that the Phillies will try to arrange a trade to get him back before the team opens its new stadium next season.

Said to be resting the sore right ankle that has put him on the 15-day DL, pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim took batting practice on Monday.

Kim, a right-handed batter, pushes off his right foot while swinging a bat. He also pushes off his right foot to pitch — which, he has said, is currently too painful.

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