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Johnson says that in those years he hired a professor from Canada to educate him on nutrition and training. He says that he used a hyperbaric chamber to improve recovery time and "dabbled in all kinds of powders and tried to put weight on." When asked what would have stopped him from using steroids at a time when baseball did not specifically ban them, Johnson pauses, then says, "Because I wasn't searching for anything other than to have the ability to throw the ball over the plate. You can do your homework. I've always thrown as hard as anybody in the game. There's no denying that. I've [also] always been skinny. I'm not denying that I went to GNC and all that stuff. I took a lot of different things that, you know, maybe at that time, maybe early enough, if I would have been tested, who knows? I could have been taking stuff had they tested me back then. Maybe I would have tested [positive for a banned supplement]. I don't know."
Johnson is asked if he could assure his fans that his achievements have been legitimate, because even clean players can be wrongly suspected. "You've got to [ask] what you've got to [ask], I guess," Johnson says, before adding, "How long have we been doing drug tests now?"
Told testing began with anonymous survey tests in 2003, he replies, "Okay, what's that? Six years now? I'm 45 ... 39 to the present and I've passed every test and I've still had some pretty good years."
No. 250 THE TWILIGHT
Johnson won his 250th game, a 6--4 win over Oakland on May 15, 2005, in his eighth start after being traded to the Yankees before that season. It was one of only seven career starts in which he failed to strike out a batter. Johnson did win 34 games in two seasons in New York, but he pitched through back problems in what were two of the least dominating seasons of his career.
"It was challenging," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada says of handling Johnson. "He was tough to talk to. Not when it came to pitching and catching and calling his game. It was just getting to sit down and go to a friend. That was the toughest thing. Because you didn't know how he was going to be that day."
Says Johnson, "I felt kind of beat up a little physically there. All the intangibles: the amount of innings, the weather, the new environment, pitching against all the teams I had to pitch against.... There was no relief. You'd be pitching against Boston and have to face them five days later."
The New York years made Johnson consider how much longer he would be able to pitch. "I will tell you, it started creeping into my head," he says, "at age 41, 42. Pitching in New York has a way of having things creep into your head that otherwise wouldn't be there. Nobody needs to tell me when I'm not pitching well. But it's reinforced that you're not."
No. 300 LAST CALL
Johnson has not decided whether to retire after this season, saying, "I take one game at a time. They've got me going for 300. I'm only at 298. I don't look that far ahead."