Johnson has rotator cuff tear

Updated: July 29, 2009, 3:31 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- At least Randy Johnson is able to maintain his sense of humor, even as his pitching future this season is in doubt.

Johnson
Johnson

The San Francisco Giants' left-hander learned Tuesday he has a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder and won't be able to throw for at least three weeks.

"Obviously the first thing I thought is that I won't be able to do my instructional hitting video," joked Johnson, who injured himself while batting during a 7-1 loss to Houston on July 5. "That will be on the back burner for a while."

So, too, will be Johnson's bid to get back in the Giants' rotation. The 303-game winner, who was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, won't pitch again in a game until early September, if at all.

Johnson is 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA with the Giants this season but hasn't pitched since the loss to the Astros.

After undergoing an MRI on Monday -- Johnson's second on the shoulder since originally injuring it -- the Big Unit met with team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki. Surgery was not discussed, according to Johnson, and he will continue to work out with the team while trying to strengthen the muscles in his shoulder.

"There's a lot of inflammation that's cleared up," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "If you really looked at all the pitchers it would show something, some tearing there. We're going to give him three more weeks to let that heal up."

Johnson acknowledged this is foreign territory, with no shoulder problems in the past.

"I've overcome a lot of surgeries, three back surgeries, three or four knee surgeries and I've been on the DL and rehabbed so I know what all that's about," Johnson said. "It's basically one more speed bump in the road of my career. The only thing that is different is that it's something different than I've ever dealt with. I've never had any elbow or shoulder issues in my career."

A day before the MRI results were revealed, Johnson told reporters he felt much better than he did when he first hurt himself. On Tuesday, he raised his left arm straight above his head to reiterate the point.

"There's been a great deal of improvement in three weeks," Johnson said. "Now that the inflammation is gone and I have a little bit better range of motion and a lot more strength there, we're now working on isolating some of the smaller muscles in my shoulder and trying to strengthen those areas up."

Johnson, who will celebrate his 46th birthday on Sept. 10, is hopeful of returning to the Giants' starting rotation but didn't rule out pitching out of the bullpen, either.

"I came here to win games, that's my intention still," he said. "Hopefully I can go out there in some capacity, whether it's starting or relieving or whatever. I'd really like to pitch. I don't know how much more I can emphasize that. Winning 300 games was great and I knew if I was healthy that that was going to be achieved. But I came here to win a lot more games and help this team in some capacity to get this organization to the next level."

Also Tuesday, the Giants placed outfielder Nate Schierholtz on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hip. Schierholtz injured himself while crashing into the outfield fence in Atlanta.

"He had the marks of the chain link on his leg," Bochy said. "He was sore and gradually it just got worse. It's tough. That's as nasty a bruise as I've seen."

By putting Schierholtz on the DL the Giants didn't have to make another move to clear room for first baseman Ryan Garko on the 25-man roster. Garko was obtained in a trade from Cleveland on Monday for one of San Francisco's top minor league pitching prospects.

The loss of Schierholtz coupled with the news of Johnson's shoulder injury dampened the good mood brought on by Garko's acquisition. San Francisco went into Tuesday one game behind Colorado in the NL wild card race.

"You just have to keep focused on what you can control and that's going out there and playing hard," Bochy said. "Sure, Nate was playing very well and we were hoping to get Randy back a little bit sooner but you know what? You focus forward, and that's what we have to do. Nate will be ready in 15 days and we're still hopeful that Randy, we'll have him in September somehow."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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