Even Big Unit's Teammates Are Scared Of Him

The New York Times has a lengthy and scholarly piece on Giants' pitcher Randy Johnson today, and it does nothing to dispel the perception that he just flat out terrifies people. The 6' 10" Giant, on the day he's got a Times beat reporter doing an article on him, chews out the batters for not swinging at enough pitches.

"Swing the stinking bat, will you", an upset Johnson is quoted as screaming at his teammates.

Johnson, at 45, is the oldest and perhaps most cantankerous guy on the Giants' roster. He even curses like an elderly man, using only words that can be reprinted in full in family publications.

Giants would only speak anonymously about how intimidating a pitcher Johnson is to face. "Something tells me the next guy who takes a pitch against Randy will get a fastball right to the cranium," one Giant said, off the record.

 Later that same practice, third base coach Shawon Dunston yells at Edgar Renteria as he faced Johnson: "Don't be scared!"

Randy Johnson is lugging into his 20th major league season, and the Times clocks his fastball speed at about 90 mph, down from a career-high in the mid-90's (on both counts, the decade and the fastball speed).His arm remains incredible, but his frequently-operated on back inhibits some throwing motions. Still, when healthy in the second half of last season, Johnson had the fifth-lowest ERA in the majors.

Johnson gets his first Cactus League start in a Giants uniform Friday afternoon at 12:05 against the Kansas City Royals.

 Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who will start yelling "Don't be scared!" every time Edgar Renteria bats.

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