07/04/2004 7:00 PM ET
Big Unit is 10 times an All-Star
Johnson is only Diamondback sent to Houston
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
|Randy Johnson was the only D-Back selected for the 2004 All-Star Game. (Paul Connors/AP)
PHOENIX -- Randy Johnson was named to his 10th All-Star Game on Sunday.
And while each of his selections have been an honor, this one holds some special significance for the 40-year-old, who plans to take his 8-year-old son Tanner with him.
"I'm excited about it," said Johnson, who is 10-6 with a 2.90 ERA this year. "My son's a little bit older now than he was the last time that I made it and obviously there was no guarantee that I was going to make it this year and surely no guarantee that I would make another one again.
"This for all intents and purposes could be my last All-Star Game, so I'm glad that he'll be able to be a part of that. Obviously it's an honor to represent this organization and it should be a lot of fun."
It's been a fun week for the Big Unit, who recorded his 4,000th strikeout Tuesday and picked up a complete-game win Sunday.
He was the lone representative for the Diamondbacks on the roster, which was announced today. One slot is still open, and will be filled by a fan vote.
Johnson had his string of All-Star selections snapped at four last year, a season he'd just as soon forget.
He was hampered by knee problems throughout 2003 and wound up missing 12 weeks during the season after undergoing surgery on his right knee.
Though he didn't make a big deal of it at the time, when he returned to action, Johnson's knee was nowhere near 100 percent and he finished the year with very un-Big Unit-like numbers, going 6-8 with a 4.26 ERA. That's when the whispers began that age had finally caught up with him.
"I think it goes without saying that I never doubted my ability," Johnson said. "I knew that I'd get back to the form that has put me where I'm at now with the help of my teammates."
Last Tuesday, Johnson joined an elite group of pitchers when he recorded his 4,000th career strikeout on the final pitch of his outing against the Padres. Add in his 10 strikeouts from Sunday and he has 4,010. Only Nolan Ryan (5,714), Roger Clemens (4,200) and Steve Carlton (4,136) have more strikeouts than Johnson, and he reached the 4,000 mark quicker than any of them, as he did it in 3,237 2/3 innings.
"If I could play another 10 years I might give Nolan a run for his money," the 40-year-old said Tuesday. "But I don't anticipate doing that."
Johnson had already added to his Hall of Fame resume earlier this year when he tossed the 16th perfect game in the modern era on May 18 against the Braves at Turner Field. It was the second no-hitter of his 16-year career.
"The guy is unbelievable," said catcher Robby Hammock, who was behind the plate for Johnson's perfect game. "Every time out he amazes me. I can't say enough about the type of pitcher he is."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.