Marlins' Willis tries to keep focus before facing Johnson

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MIAMI - Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins doesn't need to pitch against Randy Johnson to get excited about a game.

"I'm animated enough as it is," said Willis yesterday, two days before his meeting with Johnson in tomorrow night's series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I'm a high-energy guy in A-ball. For something like this, I might throw it over the net if I don't check my feelings."

Willis learned that in his last start. Facing fellow Alameda, Calif., native Jimmy Rollins and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Willis walked two of the game's first three batters.

Nonetheless, he is part of a pitching matchup deemed so attractive that ESPN2 will televise the game. That fact doesn't faze Willis, either.

"I'm not thinking about ESPN when I'm trying to get a hitter out," said Willis, adding he won't be thinking about Johnson, either, until the pitcher is at the plate.

"That's not a problem with me. They can put all the hype and hoopla and confetti all they want to, but it still comes down to throwing strikes and moving runners over."

Johnson echoed those sentiments, saying: "I don't know anything about [Willis] other than he's an exciting pitcher to watch. I don't want to make it bigger than what it is."

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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