Webb won’t pitch for D-backs this year
PHOENIX — Brandon Webb will not pitch in any of the D-backs final six games this season, the team announced Monday.
Instead, the former Cy Young Award winner, who is trying to come back from shoulder surgery performed last August, will pitch Wednesday in an Instructional League game in Tucson, Ariz.
“I’m excited to go down there and get into game situations,” Webb told MLB.com. “Obviously I wanted to pitch in the big leagues, but this is the second-best thing.”
Webb said depending on how Wednesday’s game goes, he could throw Saturday in Tucson and then possibly Oct. 7 against the Giants at their Spring Training complex in Scottsdale.
The D-backs said that their Instructional League games would be open to the public and they would announce game times soon.
Webb met with new GM Kevin Towers, interim manager Kirk Gibson and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. on Monday afternoon in hopes of convincing them to let him throw an inning or two in relief this week. Head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw and team executive Jerry Dipoto were also in the room.
One of the big advantages for Webb in throwing in the Instructional League is that it is a controlled environment where innings can be started and ended at any time. They could put runners on base if they want him to work on pitching from the stretch, or take them off if they want him throwing from the windup.
“Everybody pretty much agreed that this is a good opportunity for me and a better situation than doing it in the big leagues,” Webb said. “I’ll have to get back into covering first base, fielding bunts, pickoffs, stuff like that that I haven’t had to do in the simulated games.”
The decision not to pitch Webb means it is possible that he has thrown his last pitch in an Arizona uniform. The 31-year-old will be a free agent following the end of the season.
Drafted by the D-backs in the eighth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Webb made his big league debut in 2003 and finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting that year.
“I certainly hope that’s not the case,” Webb said of his Arizona days being over. “I’ve always said that I want to come back here. I’m hoping I throw well during the Instructional League to show Towers and Gibby that I’m healthy and that I’m going to be alright.”
Towers, who took over for Dipoto last week, said the decision was made with Webb’s best interests in mind and did not rule out him returning to the D-backs in 2011.
“For me it was a matter of relying on staff that has worked with him during the rehab process,” Towers said. “It’s a more controlled environment for him. By no means is this kicking Brandon Webb out the door with the D-backs. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to see him face hitters once or twice so that we can make a decision about next year.”
Webb was 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006 and won the NL Cy Young Award. He finished second in the voting in each of the following two seasons when he won 18 and 22 games respectively.
In each year from 2004 through 2008, Webb made at least 33 starts and threw at least 208 innings. He was the D-backs Opening Day starter in 2009 and was roughed up by the Rockies allowing six runs over four innings. That may turn out to be his final appearance for the D-backs.
Following that game, Webb complained of shoulder stiffness and after visits to a variety of specialists and numerous rehab attempts, he had shoulder surgery on Aug. 3.
The D-backs were optimistic enough about his recovery that after watching him play catch in October they elected to exercise his $8.5 million contract option for 2010.
Webb threw off a mound for the first time just before Spring Training and it appeared initially like he might be able to start the season on time. However he was not able to get the arm speed he needed and this summer has been filled with long toss, bullpen sessions and simulated games.
Finally, though, he will be able to get back on a mound.
“I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous,” Webb said. “Guys will be up there swinging. It’s not going to be like a simulated game. It’s going to be fun, though, I can’t wait.”