The Big Unit, returning from offseason back surgery, will pitch
for Triple-A Tucson on Thursday night. If all goes well, Johnson
could pitch for the Diamondbacks against San Diego on April 24.
"I didn't feel I was ready," Johnson said. "I'm coming off
back surgery. I didn't have a regular spring training, absolutely.
I'm feeling good about everything, and I want to have one more
productive start and know that it's my last start."
Arizona had thought Johnson's start at Tucson on Friday night
would be his last tuneup. But Melvin said the club and the pitcher
agreed he needed more time.
"He's at 20, 21 innings, which is a short spring, especially
for a guy that's coming off back surgery," manager Bob Melvin
said. "At some point in time, you go through that dead-arm period,
and we feel like he's a little bit there right now."
Arizona reacquired the 43-year-old left-hander in January after
he spent two frustrating seasons with the New York Yankees. Johnson
won four of his five Cy Young Awards during his first stint with
the Diamondbacks, from 1999-2004.
Also Monday, the Diamondbacks activated outfielder
Carlos Quentin from the 15-day disabled list.
Quentin, who had been out with a shoulder injury, batted fifth
and played right field against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His return
prompted a shuffle in the outfield, with Eric Byrnes moving to left
and Scott Hairston going to the bench.
To make room for Quentin, the Diamondbacks optioned infielder
Brian Barden to Tucson. Barden was 1-for-10 in his first seven
major league games this season.