Commissioner's office looks into comments

Updated: July 1, 2004, 10:17 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- George Steinbrenner's interest in Randy Johnson could end up costing him.

The commissioner's office said Thursday it was reviewing remarks the New York Yankees owner made about the Arizona Diamondbacks ace this week to see if there was any tampering that could result in a fine.

"We are looking into it," spokesman Matt Gould said. "It involves talking about someone under contract to another team."

Steinbrenner has long admired Johnson, going back to when the Big Unit helped Seattle beat the Yankees in the 1995 AL playoffs. Johnson then won three games against the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, pitching the Diamondbacks to the championship.

With the July 31 trade deadline approaching and the Yankees possibly looking to add another starting pitcher, Steinbrenner reiterated Wednesday that he liked the Big Unit.

"God, who wouldn't love to have Randy Johnson?" Steinbrenner told Sporting News Radio. "He's a dominator and we'd love to have him. Anybody would love to have him, but I also know that (Diamondbacks owner) Jerry Colangelo is not going to give him away. We'll have to see what happens as the deadline gets closer. We'll see.

"We will try and make a move somewhere along the line here. We are working on it feverishly," he said. "We are not going to mention any names, but we're looking. You can never have enough pitching."

Johnson has veto power over any deal and the Diamondbacks have repeatedly said they would not trade the five-time Cy Young Award winner.

Last month when New York played at Arizona, the 40-year-old lefty said he had not pondered whether he'd accept a trade to the Yankees.

"Right now, I've not been approached by either team," Johnson said at the time. "It's kind of pointless."

Johnson is in the first year of a $33 million, two-year contract extension. After having surgery on his right knee last year, he has been impressive this season.

Johnson pitched a perfect game against Atlanta on May 18 and passed 4,000 career strikeouts this week while facing San Diego. He is 9-6 with a 3.04 ERA in 17 starts, fanning 129 in 115 1-3 innings. In other Yankees pitching news, Kevin Brown was diagnosed with intestinal parasites, joining Jason Giambi as the second member of the Yankees to test positive for the ailment this week.

Brown has been out with a bad back since leaving a start June 9, but he's also been ailing "about 3 weeks or so since we got back from Japan," losing 15 pounds and struggling even to get out of bed each day.

Brown had numerous tests that offered no explanations for what was sapping him of his strength. So when Brown learned Giambi had parasites on Tuesday, he knew he should get checked, even though he didn't have the stomach virus symptoms that the first baseman had.

"At least I understand why I struggled so bad," Brown said.

Yankees team doctor Stuart Hershon spoke with the players before their game against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, explaining that this is not an epidemic and that the entire team does not need to be tested.

"I wanted to talk to the team to put to rest any unnecessary anxiety," he said. "I just wanted get any obvious concerns out of the way."

Brown suggested he might have gotten the parasites during the Yankees' season-opening series in Japan against Tampa Bay in March.

"Everything is so much speculation _ that would seem to be a distinct possibility," Brown said. "I think overseas travel is a red flag for doctors."

Hershon and the Devil Rays said Tampa Bay had no cases.

"We haven't had any illnesses that we would suspect would be related to a parasite," Devil Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said.

Brown began taking antibiotics, which should take seven to 10 days to work, and will not participate in any workouts until he is feeling stronger.

Giambi has been taking the medicine for four days and told Torre he is slowly feeing better. Giambi took batting practice in the indoor cages at Yankee Stadium the past two days.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press