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May 17 2006: Tall Cold One

Randy Johnson has struggled of late, so I thought it would be worth revisiting a conversation that he and I had at the end of spring training. Given Johnson’s toughness as a competitor, the problem is more likely mechanical than mental.

Cecilia Tan: Has your perspective changed on your career now versus when you were younger?

Randy Johnson: My career is almost over. I’m not in the middle, I’m not in the beginning, I’m more towards the end. So, you know, I don’t really know how to answer that question other than to state the obvious, yeah.

CT: Was the decision to come to New York part of that knowing you are coming to the end?

RJ: I think it was more the decision to continue to be challenged toward the end of my career. The challenges were obviously there when I was young early in my career, the middle of my career, and I don’t think there is any bigger challenge toward the end to come here and have your reputation as a pitcher that can go out and do the things I do and still do them at the age I am doing them at. So that’s obviously the greatest challenge. If you are not into challenges, this obviously wouldn’t be the place to come late in your career.

CT: In fact, I’d say there are some guys who late in their careers left here to get away from those challenges.

RJ: Yeah, you’re right. I’ve always wanted to be challenged in my career and there is no greater place to be challenged than here. They expect to win, and that is what I’ve been expected to do everywhere I have gone.

CT: How does it feel to be part of that?

RJ: Good. It’s a good fit.

CT: The fans seem to respond to you, also.

RJ: They respond to anybody that wins, and fans are very appreciative of your effort when it’s there and obviously when you pitch poorly they will do whatever they do accordingly. That’s to be expected. That’s the way it is everywhere. If you get a bad steak or go to a bad movie, you send it back to get it cooked right or you walk out of the movie halfway. So, that comes with the territory.

CT: Are you looking forward to this year? Will it be different?

RJ: I think it will be. I think it’s a new year and I’m looking forward to doing this again.

CT: I think the AL East is going to be tough.

RJ: I think it’s the toughest division in all of baseball. There’s another challenge in hand. And if we want to continue talking about challenges, not only coming to the Yankees late in my career, but being in the toughest division, and then also playing in the American League, which is slightly tougher than the National League because you’re not facing the pitcher. There’s several challenge there. But I’m up for challenging all of them.

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