Historically, lefty hitters have struggled against lefty pitchers. Over his career, Randy Johnson has held left-handed batters to a .199 batting average while right-handed batters have hit only .244 against him.
Let’s hope the Nationals don’t swing at the Randy Johnson name. While he’s still impressive, he’s not what he once was when he teamed up with Curt Schilling to help the Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series.
Wil Nieves is one of only 12 players to get his first major league hit off Randy Johnson. He told me on Wednesday that it’s important to work the count with the Big Unit. Make him work, and that could benefit the Nats.
Still, the 45-year-old California native has a knack for being durable and intimidating batters.
It’s ironic that he didn’t have instant success when the Expos drafted him in 1985. Nats first base coach Marquis Grissom played with Johnson early in his career and he told me the Big Unit didn’t throw strikes right away. But, once he figured things out, he was unstoppable. Grissom struggled against Randy and was only 10-57 (a .175 batting average) with 22 strikeouts against the lefty. But, four of his ten hits were home runs!
Nats esteemed clubhouse manager Mike Wallace tells me the team has three cases of baseballs ready to go. That’s 216 baseballs.
Every foul ball will be kept and authenticated. (If you’re a fan and catch a foul ball it won’t be authenticated.) In addition, everything Randy wears will be sent to Major League Baseball or the Hall of Fame. The lineup cards and three sets of bases will also be saved.
If Randy wins his 300th at Nationals Park on Thursday the pitching rubber and a bucket of dirt from the pitching mound will also be collected.
Of course, if he doesn’t win, everything goes back to the Nationals!