"You know, if you're tired of the stories, you could end them all by just saying, 'I'm happy in Arizona. I don't want to leave,' " someone observed.
Johnson chuckled and said, "I love it in Arizona. ... Uh, how'd that go again?"
The question was then repeated to him.
The Big Unit then said: "I like Arizona. My children go to school in Arizona."
Question: "And you don't want to leave?"
Another long pause.
"I don't know if I can say that," Johnson said.
Asked at that point if he wanted to be traded, Johnson replied: "I don't know. ... I haven't been approached by the Diamondbacks yet to waive my no-trade clause."
Then, after another pause, he said: "The only way I'd probably want to leave is if a trade would benefit the Diamondbacks by my leaving. And maybe the way to do that is if they wouldn't have to pay my salary and it could go to some other players that would help them -- and if I got to a situation that was going to work for me. That's pretty logical, right?"
Johnson, 10-7 with a 2.99 ERA and a major league-leading 145
strikeouts, said the last-place Diamondbacks also would be benefit
from "the players they got in return."
Anaheim, Boston and the Yankees appear to be the most likely candidates for a deal with the Diamondbacks, a major league-worst 31-58 at the All-Star break, 18½ games behind NL West-leading Los Angeles.
"I'm not going to leave to go to a situation where they theoretically have a chance to win," said Johnson, 10-7 with a 2.99 ERA and a major league-leading 145
strikeouts. "It's going to have to be somewhere that ... teams
that have a chance to win, that's the only way.
"There has been no list of teams [he would accept a trade to]. Just teams that have a [good] chance to win. That's the only way.
"So there. You got what you wanted. I'm not going to talk about it anymore."
But then he did. Asked if he'd gone to the Diamondbacks and asked to be traded, Johnson replied: "Whatever they want to do, they're going to do. Matt Williams had a no-trade clause, and they were trying to trade him to Colorado. So whatever they want to do, they can do. You see it all the time. It's not just me."
Johnson, asked what his thoughts were about his memories of trips to Boston's North End, joked about it.
"I was really torn between the Boston clam chowder and the Manhattan clam chowder," he said.
Arizona has refused to say whether it plans to deal Johnson. The deadline to make deals without waivers in July 31.
"I don't have any comment at all at this time," Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said Monday.
Johnson, co-MVP of Arizona's seven-game World Series win over
the Yankees in 2001, said his goal was to get back to the World Series.
"That's why we all play," he said.
The 40-year-old left-hander, who pitched a perfect game at
Atlanta on May 18, is making $16 million this season and is due $16
million in 2005, the final year of his deal. He said he does not
want a new contract as part of waiving his rights to block a trade.
"Reading that I want an extension, that's the only way that I
would accept a trade, is absolutely incorrect," he said. "Saying
that I would be willing to go to Anaheim because I've got a house
there 20 minutes [from the ballpark] is absolutely incorrect."
Former Diamondbacks teammate Curt Schilling, Johnson's World
Series co-MVP, wouldn't say whether he's lobbying Johnson to go to
Boston. Schilling talks frequently with Johnson and their families
planned to spend time together in Houston.
Yankees players have made clear they want Johnson in the Bronx.
New York's payroll would approach $200 million if it acquires
"The only issue is [Bernie] is number 51," Alex Rodriguez
said, jokingly. "There's no question he would be welcomed."
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said that if he has a chance, he
would lobby Johnson to join the Yankees.
"I will tell him it's the best place to play," said Rivera,
who has spent his entire major league career in New York. "If you
ask me, 'Do I want the guy there?' Yes. But it's up to him."
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.