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Johnson confirmed as Game 3 starter for Yankees

NEW YORK -- Randy Johnson threw a bullpen session Wednesday
afternoon and Yankees manager Joe Torre said the left-hander is set
to start Game 3 of the AL Division Series in Detroit on Friday
night.

Johnson has a herniated disc in his back that required him to
get an epidural shot last Friday. He threw in the outfield grass
Saturday and then had a bullpen session the next day.

Torre said he threw 30-35 pitches Wednesday. Game 2 was rained out Wednesday night, and was rescheduled for Thursday afternoon.

"Everything seemed fine," Torre said. "He's ready to go."

Johnson, who departed for Detroit after the bullpen session,
last pitched on Sept. 23. He gave up five runs and seven hits over
six innings in an 8-0 loss at Tampa Bay.

The Big Unit was 17-11 with a career-high 5.00 ERA in 33 starts
this season. His lower back stiffness began in September and
increased throughout the month.

Johnson hasn't had much success in the division series, going
2-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 11 career starts. He is scheduled to face
Tigers lefty Kenny Rogers, who hasn't fared much better with an 0-1
record and a 7.04 ERA in four career division series games.

The Big Unit pitched twice when the Yankees lost to the Angels
in five games in the first round of last year's playoffs. He lasted
just three innings in his only start, allowing five runs and nine
hits, but came back with 4 1/3 shutout innings of relief in Game 5.

Johnson is 5-1 with a 1.48 ERA in seven games in the league
championship series and World Series, including when he helped
pitch the Arizona Diamondbacks past the Yankees for the 2001
championship.

"He's still trying to find his niche as far as being
consistent," Torre said. "You know, when you've pitched as long
as he has and you're used to throwing the ball 97, 98 miles an hour
all the time, a time comes when you realize you're going to have to
win with less velocity. And I think he, you know, got to that point
this year."