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This is a great article...

http://www.tribnet.com/sports/baseball/story/5563271p-5495493c.html

Tigers pitcher an inspiration for diabetics to succeed

JOHN MCGRATH; The News Tribune

The Mariners were playing Detroit in May when Scott Pepin, watching the game on TV in his Tacoma home, noticed a device - something resembling a pager - attached to the belt buckle of Tigers pitcher Jason Johnson.

"Look at this guy," Pepin told his wife, Kim. "He's wearing a pump."

The father of a first-grader diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, Pepin knew all about insulin pumps, and how they enable diabetics to better control their blood sugar level.

But a starting pitcher hooked up to an insulin pump during a game? This was new.

Intrigued, Kim Pepin did a Google search. Sure enough, Johnson has been a Type 1 diabetic - incapable of producing insulin, the protein that helps control the body's conversion of sugar into energy - since the age of 11. The profile was consistent with Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong disease more severe than the affliction that commonly requires adult diabetics to change their diet and exercise habits.

Jason Johnson, the Pepins also learned, is active in Juvenile Diabetes Foundation fund-raisers.

"He sounded like a neat guy," Scott Pepin said Wednesday. "So I wrote a letter to him about my son Drew. I told him how pleased I was that there was a big-league pitcher he could use as an inspiration."

Pepin was checking for voice-mail messages one day in July when he heard something that made his pulse race.

"A representative from the Tigers' community relations department had called and wanted to talk to me," he said. "I knew they didn't want me in for a tryout, of course, but for a split-second, in kind of a pretend way, you hear, 'Please call the Detroit Tigers' and it's a thrill."

There would be more thrills. A few weeks after the Tigers contacted his dad, Drew received a handwritten letter from Jason Johnson.

"It was a person-to-person note, real upbeat," Pepin said. "And it closed with a P.S. - 'I'd love to have you be my guest at a game this season.'"

On the final weekend of the season, Drew will accompany his father to Comerica Park in Detroit. They'll have access to the field for an hour's worth of batting practice, meet players and play catch.

That Jason Johnson made the effort to a reach out to a fellow diabetic with a handwritten invitation to Detroit won't garner him consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. But during a week in which Rangers reliever Frank Francisco hurled a bullpen chair into the stands and broke the nose of a female spectator, Johnson's graciousness serves as a reminder the good guys in baseball always will outnumber the knuckleheads.

"I want Drew to understand he can be anything he wants to be, and do anything he wants to do," Pepin said. "Yes, there are lifestyle adjustments: He still has to be awakened in the middle of the night so his blood can be checked. He still has to have shots. There are times when I'll hear him say, 'I hate this disease.'

"But he realizes diabetes doesn't have to be a death sentence. Look at Jason Johnson."

Johnson is not the first diabetic to have achieved his aspirations of a pro sports career. Ron Santo, a nine-time All-Star third baseman with the Cubs, secretly gave himself daily insulin shots. It was not until his 11th season, when the Cubs honored him with a career-achievement day, that Santo - a diabetic since the age of 18 and a graduate of Seattle's Franklin High School - made his illness public.

Longtime NBA center Chris Dudley and pro golfers Kelli Kuehne and Scott Verplank are among others who have refused to let diabetes stifle their talents.

But until last spring, when Johnson sought the approval of Major League Baseball, no baseball player had competed with an insulin pump on the back of his belt.

"When I first got the insulin pump, I figured they'd never let me wear this on my belt," Johnson recently told reporters. "No one else in the league had ever worn one during a game, and I thought batters would complain about it being different and that it would throw them off."

Baseball gave its blessing, and Johnson has yet to hear a single objection. Do-what-you-can-to-rattle-an-opponent issues might be taken up with those who wear gleaming earrings and gold chains, but when a man merely wants to pitch without worrying about his body functioning properly, gamesmanship is trumped by sportsmanship.

Score one for humanity.

As for Drew Pepin, his dreams of growing up to be a big-league baseball player are as legitimate as those of any other 7-year-old kid. No matter how his sports career turns out, he can always tell his kids about the pitcher who turned him into a Detroit Tigers fan.

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For a while he was by far the Tiger's best pitcher, in the early summer. After his blister problems went away he was dynamite for 10 straight starts.

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Originally posted by Biff Mayhem

What if he were in the bullpen?

I don't think he'd accept such a role - he talked about showing his #1 status when we signed him last off-season and again brought us his imagined status when Trammell took him out of a game recently.

He did string together a nice set of games, but overall the guy has never impressed me - if he's back, that means we didn't upgrade our rotation through free-agency.

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Johnson isnt a horrible pitcher he just isnt a #1 starter hes a middle or low rotation kind of a guy. He isnt bad as a 3rd of 4th starter.

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Great story.

I like Johnson, I feel that he could be a good middle of the rotation guy. We'll see.

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I really like the story. However, I feel that if the Tigers truly want to compete for a division championship, and a world series, Johnson does not belong in THIS rotation. He's just not consistent or reliable enough. Trade him.

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Originally posted by eastside billee

Johnson does not belong in THIS rotation. He's just not consistent or reliable enough.

He is rather inconsistent, but when he's on he can be dominating. I'd hate to just give up on him.

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Nice article about JJ. I may have had some doubts about his status as the #1 stater but never about him being a solid guy.

I completely disagree about JJ not being consistent. He has lived up to his previous M.O of starting strong and then flailing the 2nd half as he has done most of his career. Exactly as advertised. A picture of consistancy.

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Originally posted by Biff Mayhem

Hey, why not keep him as a number 4 or 5 starter?

He would never "accept" being a No. 4 starter. Remember the article when he ripped into Tram? He still thinks he is the ace of this staff.

Also, his career numbers are pretty bad. His stinkiness since mid-June (a looooong time) is not surprising if you look at his numbers.

Oh yeah, nice article.

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Originally posted by NJ Jackal

He would never "accept" being a No. 4 starter. Remember the article when he ripped into Tram? He still thinks he is the ace of this staff.

Well, if we sign a couple of pitchers during free agency, he had better stop thinking those thoughts...

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Originally posted by NJ Jackal

He would never "accept" being a No. 4 starter. Remember the article when he ripped into Tram? He still thinks he is the ace of this staff.

Also, his career numbers are pretty bad. His stinkiness since mid-June (a looooong time) is not surprising if you look at his numbers.

Oh yeah, nice article.

What did you get that from?????????? Have you ever talked to him? It doesn't really matter where you are in the rotation. You still have to go out there and pitch every 5 days. When he got mad at Trammell it was just a "heat of hte moment, blowing off steam" comment. He knows he isn't an "ace", and he's never said he was. There's a deference between being an ace and a team's #1 starter. When they signed him, they told him he was the team's #1 starter, which was the reason for his comment. You make too big of a deal out of it. I really don't think it would much of a difference if we dropped him to #4 or 5.

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