Results tagged ‘ Brandon Webb ’
SAN FRANCISCO — As he walked into the dugout at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, his inning of Instructional League work completed, Brandon Webb turned to former big leaguers and current D-backs Minor League instructors Alan Zinter and Mike Bell.
“I said to them, ‘That’s the most fun I’ve had in two years,'” Webb told MLB.com by phone as he headed back up Interstate 10 to Phoenix.
It was the first time Webb had faced hitters in a game since Opening Day 2009 when he experienced shoulder discomfort that wound up leading to shoulder surgery in August and endless long toss and bullpen sessions.
Webb threw 20 pitches in working one scoreless inning, facing four batters and recording two groundouts and a fly out to go with a triple.
“I had some nerves going in,” he said. “But it felt real good. I was throwing strikes, which was really good. Changeup was good. My curveball was surprisingly good. I’ve been throwing most of them in the dirt during the simulated games, just not getting good extension on them, but it was good today.”
Webb said it did not take him any longer than usual to get ready for the outing — 30-35 pitches in the bullpen to warm up. His velocity he said was probably in the low 80s, but he expects that to improve in subsequent outings.
“I was just trying to get my feet wet today,” Webb said. “You know I had control problems at times during the [simulated] games and so today I was guiding the ball a little bit. I just didn’t want to go out there and walk a bunch of guys or hit guys. I think I’ll be able to let it go more next time. I’m just happy to feel so good at this point.”
If all goes according to plan, Webb will throw again Saturday in Tucson and then one more time Oct. 7 in Phoenix.
Numerous scouts attended the outing to get a look at Webb, who will be a free agent at season’s end.
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.”
A.J. Hinch stopped short of saying that Rodrigo Lopez had locked up a spot in the rotation, but it sure seems like the right-hander did just that with 5 1/3 shutout innings against the Brewers on Sunday.
“Very good,” Hinch said of Lopez’s performance. “That’s as good as he’s looked all spring and he’s had a good spring. He executed his pitches.”
So what else does he have to do to make the team?
“He’s doing all he can to make this team,” Hinch said. “Just keep pitching. We’re in no rush to judgment here ,but I’m happy with how he’s thrown the ball this spring.”
“I want to stay with the team,” Lopez said. “I think I can help them. I’ve just got to stay focused.”
It is not surprising that Hinch did not just come out and say Lopez was the guy considering that the other two pitchers competing for the spot — Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey — both are slated to pitch Monday night against the Padres in Peoria.
So what would they need to do tomorrow night to change how things stand right now?
“I don’t know,” Hinch said. “They need to pitch well. Lopey’s done a nice job of putting pressure on those guys and staking his claim on why he should potentially make the team. It’s good see. It’s good to see him come out and do well. It’s good for our team, it’s good for him and it creates a competitive situation.”
Has he put himself in a pretty good spot?
“Lopey’s put himself in a great spot,” Hinch said. “Each time out he’s executed his pitches. I’m happy with the way he’s thrown.”
After starting off the spring on the right foot, Buckner has allowed 13 runs in his last 5 2/3 innings and has an 11.66 ERA this spring.
Mulvey, who last pitched in a Minor League game last Tuesday, has a 3.68 ERA in three Cactus League games.
MAYBE THREE: Hinch on Saturday announced that Ian Kennedy had made the team, but did not say whether the right-hander will start the third or fourth game of the season.
“I’m not ready to back myself into the decision yet,” Hinch said.
One of the factors that works in Kennedy’s favor is the third spot in the rotation will get some extra off days during the month of April. That is the spot they had initially targeted for Brandon Webb for that reason.
SPEAKING OF WEBB: Nothing much new on the Brandon Webb front. The team is now having him throw from flat ground in “sets”, in a way simulating innings. That’s what the right-hander did Sunday morning.
“It went well,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “We incorporated a little higher intensity, a little higher volume. We did sets. I don’t think it simulates innings. The ball is a little better. It’s not game ready or anything like that, but he looks a little stronger for longer periods of time and that’s a good sign.”
After the sets, Webb threw between five and seven balls off the mound, starting behind the rubber and stepping in front of the rubber and throwing.
“It was a little unexpected, but he felt good enough to do it,” Hinch said. “Really all that does is change the angle of the throw and where his land foot is. It gives him something different in his program that isn’t so monotonous and boring.”
Hinch is well aware that the next week or so is going to be tough for Webb, who will begin the season on the disabled list.
“The first part of the season will punch him in the gut too because he’s not ready,” Hinch said. “It’s difficult mentally and physically to watch the rest of your teammates getting ready for Opening Day. We’re trying to alter his program to try and continue to push him forward.”
HEALTH MATTERS: Other than Webb, the D-backs right now do not have anyone else set to start the season on the DL.
“We’re a healthy team and that’s a good sign,” Hinch said. “I’m very pleased with the life that we have in our bodies. We’ve gotten over the lull of the middle part of Spring Training and I see plenty of energy and readiness.”
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MUCH BETTER: Ian Kennedy was impressive against the Padres, allowing just two hits while throwing five scoreless innings.
Kennedy is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but he managed to fan eight without walking a batter. Throwing strikes was something he wanted to accomplish and he did that and then some.
“I just wanted to pound the zone early on,” he said. “Worked really well with Chris Snyder today. He called a great game.”
The D-backs had to be pleased to see Kennedy bounce back after struggling against the Angels in his previous outing last week.
“The outing in Tempe I just kind of took it as a bad day,” Kennedy said. “I tried to learn from it and move on.”
I don’t think there was much question that Kennedy was going to be part of the team’s rotation, but if there was, I would think that there is no longer any doubt that will be.
“Ian was really, really good,” Hinch said. “He had good rhythm, he had good command he had swing and miss type stuff. A great outing. He hasn’t pitched poorly but he hadn’t pitched a clean game.”
He sure did Monday.
NOT AS GOOD: The day did not go as well for pitchers Jordan Norberto and Esmerling Vasquez.
Norberto came into the game having not allowed a run in six innings, but he struggled with his command and walked three and allowed a hit in lasting just two-thirds of an inning. He allowed one run, which he forced in when he gave Yorvit Torrealba a free pass with the bases loaded.
“It was good to see him under a little duress,” Hinch said.
While there had been some talk of Norberto making the team out of Spring Training, I always got the impression that the organization wanted him to get a little more Minor League seasoning. After all, he has made just 16 appearances at the Double-A level.
I still think he will start the year in the Minor Leagues, though it’s not out of the question they could decide to keep him. He’s certainly been extremely impressive. Regardless if he pitches like he did early in camp, expect to see him at Chase Field at some point this year.
Vasquez, who had shown improvement in his past few outings got out of the bases loaded jam in the seventh, but got himself into trouble with walks as well. The right-hander walked three and gave up a pair of runs.
SPEAKING OF THE ROSTER: Hinch said Monday that he is likely to carry 12 pitchers to start the year with eight of them being relievers.
If you figure that four of those spot are locked up by Chad Qualls, Bob Howry, Juan Gutierrez, Aaron Heilman and the fifth is all but taken by Blaine Boyer than it leaves you with three spots open.
I have to think that at this moment, Leo Rosales is a front runner for one. The right-hander has pitched well for the most part this spring and he’s out of Minor League options.
That leaves a couple of spots and a number of different options with Vasquez, Clay Zavada, Norberto and Zach Kroenke still in the mix.
We’ll see how the last two weeks play out.
WEBB UPDATE: Nothing really new here. Webb played catch again Monday. Hinch said they are being extra cautious in building his arm strength so that he doesn’t plateau like he did earlier this month.
While they don’t want to put a timeframe on him, it certainly seems like 30 days is the minimum it would take for him to be ready after getting back on the mound. So if late-April is going to be realistic, he will need to take a step forward soon.
DOUBLING UP: The D-backs grounded into five double plays wiping out numerous scoring opportunities.
“I could have done without all the double plays,” Hinch said.
Tuesday’s off day could not come at a better time for the D-backs, who seem ready for a break.
AT THE TOP: Conor Jackson hit at the top of the order for the second day in a row and you get the feeling that Hinch is really warming to the idea of hitting him there to start the season.
It’s really an excellent idea given that it plays to Jackson’s strength (getting on base, working counts) and the team truly doesn’t have a prototypical option there.
GOING UPTOWN: I’m late to the party on this, I know, but have you seen what the organization has planned for the right-field bleachers this year?
TAKING OFF: Tuesday will be an off day for the D-backs so this blog will be dark for the day, but will be back up and running from Glendale on Wednesday.
Here’s your Wednesday recap…
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ROUGH ONE: For the second straight day, a D-backs starting pitcher had trouble getting a feel for his pitches.
Tuesday, it was Edwin Jackson and Wednesday it was Ian Kennedy’s turn.
The right-hander allowed four runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings of work against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“I felt all over the place,” Kennedy said. “My fastball command wasn’t nearly what I wanted it to be. It’d feel like one pitch would be there and the next pitch I would try to repeat it and it’s up and away or I’d pull it in the dirt. It’s frustrating because I always want to do well. It’s Spring Training, but still I want to perform. It’s just one of those starts where I felt like I couldn’t repeat the same pitch I had before.”
Kennedy did not allow a run in his first two starts of the spring, but Wednesday he seemed to be behind on a majority of the hitters.
“That’s another thing I’m frustrated about,” he said. “I put them in hitter’s counts almost every time. When I was ahead I got it to even. It was 0-1 then it was 1-1 or I’d get a 1-2 and then I’d go to 2-2. You can’t pitch late in games throwing that many pitches every time. I physically feel good. That’s the frustrating part. You feel good and then I feel like I can’t repeat the same pitch so that’s what’s frustrating.”
LINING UP: The starting lineup for the D-backs on Wednesday — Drew (ss), Jackson (lf), Upton (rf), LaRoche (1b), Reynolds (3b), Montero (c), Johnson (2b) and Young (cf) — included every player you would expect to be in there on Opening Day.
As for the batting order…well, that remains a work in progress.
One thing seems certain and that is that manager A.J. Hinch likes the combination of Upton, LaRoche and Reynolds in the 3-4-5 spots.
Another thing that seems likely is Jackson in the No. 2 hole given his plate discipline and on-base abilities.
Leadoff hitter? Stay tuned.
“Kelly and Stephen and CY could all conceivable hit near the top or the bottom of our lineup,” Hinch said. “It’s a good problem to have. We have the makings of an offense that could be pretty fluid throughout the order.”
So if Jackson is second, Upton third, LaRoche fourth, Reynolds fifth and Montero sixth that means that two of the three candidates to hit leadoff would end up in the seventh and eighth spots in the order.
While the order will change during the season, Hinch will try to keep it consistent.
“I don’t want to get into a routine of flipping the lineup all the time,” he said. “I do like the idea of having the guys understand their roles and understand where it is. At the top of the order, I want the guys to be the table-setters for the middle of the order. It could change over time. I look at it a different way that with so many options it’s an advantage for us.”
NOT MUCH: The D-backs did not have much reaction to the news that Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee had been suspended for five regular season games for throwing over the head of Chris Snyder on Monday in Tucson.
“We don’t have them on our schedule,” Snyder said. “The only time we would see them is if we both make it in October and by then I’m sure that suspension will be over with.”
So did Snyder think it was deserved?
“That’s not my call,” he said. “MLB made the call on it. That’s it.”
How about you Hinch, what do you think about it?
“Nothing for me to comment on,” Hinch said. “It’s MLB’s business and the Mariners business.”
QUICK HITTER: Upton continues to hit the ball with authority this spring. He picked up another pair of hits Wednesday and Hinch said he looks to be in a “good rhythm” at the plate. …
Mark Reynolds hit his first homer of the spring in the sixth inning.
“He’s been inching forward in his contact,” Hinch said. …
With Brandon Webb starting the year on the disabled list there are two spots in the rotation up for grabs for Billy Buckner, Rodrigo Lopez, Kevin Mulvey (and maybe) Kris Benson.
If camp ended today it would not be a surprise to see Kennedy in the third spot and Buckner No. 4. The D-backs could then wait until April 17 before needing to carry a fifth starter.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that Buckner and Kennedy have a leg up,” Hinch said. “But I wouldn’t count Lopez and Mulvey out by any means.”
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CLOSE CALL: The competition for the final spot on the bench is starting to really heat up for the D-backs.
“It’s nice when the plot thickens a little bit,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “We still have a lot of time left so there’s plenty of time for further evaluation, but to have them playing crisply is good to see.”
Tony Abreu, Jeff Bailey, Cole Gillespie and Rusty Ryal have all impressed in various ways. At the start of camp it looked like Abreu and Ryal would be the main the combatants given that the team probably would not want to carry five outfielders (Gillespie) or a another first baseman (Bailey).
It’s still doubtful that they will carry someone whose primary position is first base, but Gillespie may make them reconsider carrying five outfielders.
“It’s interesting how guys can change your mind or push to make rosters,” Hinch said. “I think with our roster and the flexibility we have it’s not inconceivable that we wouldn’t carry five outfielders. Gillespie is making a great impression.”
Acquired in the deal that sent Felipe Lopez to Milwaukee last July, Gillespie has hit the ball well — he tripled in his one at-bat Saturday to raise his average to raise his spring average to .316. In addition he’s shown that he can play all three outfield positions rather than just the corners, which adds to his value.
Abreu and Ryal have both played extremely well. Saturday it was a back and forth between the two with Abreu, who is hitting .478, tripling home a pair of runs in the fifth and Ryal coming back with a homer one inning later.
Ryal, who raised his average to .250 with a pair of homers, also made a nice diving stop at third and has shown he can play second, first and left field as well.
“Ryal’s diving play at third was nice to see,” Hinch said.
Abreu has already proved he could play second, short and third this spring.
“Abreu continues to impress at short,” Hinch said.
There’s still three weeks left and it will likely come down to what skill set Hinch wants in that final spot. Does he want a versatile middle infielder like Abreu? Or with Augie Ojeda already filling that role does Hinch want someone with a little more pop in his bat like Ryal? Or does Gillespie play so well that he forces them to carry a fifth outfielder?
Stay tuned. This could get real interesting.
WEBB UPDATE: Brandon Webb played catch again Saturday and there seems to be some encouragement building in him as well as Arizona officials.
“He feels great,” Hinch said. “I think the three or four day blow that we gave him was what he needed. He’s showing some more life in his arm. The good thing is he’s progressing at a more accelerated pace.”
Webb threw a few breaking balls, something Hinch took as a very positive sign though there is still no timetable for him to get into a Cactus League game.
“Hopefully sometime in the next week I’d certainly would hope to get him back up on the mound and get him back on his program of bullpens and whatever’s next,” Hinch said.
And let’s stop waiting for the D-backs to come out and say he’s going to start the season on the disabled list — Hinch gets asked that question every day — and just accept that he will not be making the start the third day of the season as originally hoped.
The D-backs will not need a fifth starter until April 17 so it will be interesting to see whether they decide to just carry four starters until then and if Webb could possibly be ready for that start.
“If he’s not going to make the third start of the season when is that next start going to come?” Hinch said. “I don’t know. But what I do know is as soon as he’s ready we want him in our rotation. But until then we’re going to compete and expect to win so when he does get back he’s a great addition to our team.
NO PLAYING GAMES WITH KENNEDY: With Ian Kennedy only throwing 23 2/3 innings during the regular season last year — plus another 29 2/3 in the Arizona Fall League — Hinch was asked Saturday if the team might delay the start of Kennedy’s season a little to help keep his inning total down.
“We won’t be interested in delaying the start of his season on purpose,” he said.
Instead, the team will monitor him throughout the season and if necessary give him an extra day here and there. Hinch, though, said the team expects between 160-180 innings from Kennedy, typically what a No. 4 or 5 starter throws.
TITLES: Hinch does not want to say yet whether Bob Howry or Juan Gutierrez will be the primary setup man to closer Chad Qualls.
“It’s a little early to worry about that yet,” Hinch said. “[Gutierrez] will pitch in important innings, though, that’s how I would title it.”
BACK: Outfielder Chris Young, who left the team for a few days due to a death in his family, was back in the lineup Saturday.
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TODAY’S ONLINE STORIES: Remember when the Jose Valverde trade to the Astros looked like a winner for Houston? How is it looking today?
The D-backs beat the A’s today.
The D-backs worked out free agent pitcher Kris Benson at their Minor League complex.
NARROW ESCAPE: Left-hander Clay Zavada had his best outing thus far tossing a scoreless inning. The left-hander walked the leadoff batter in the fourth, but got a double play ball and struck out Travis Buck to end the frame.
It’s been a challenging spring for Zavada, who is trying to work on his curveball to give himself another weapon against lefties while at the same time impressing the staff enough to win one of the final two spots in the bullpen.
It seems in his first two appearances this spring, Zavada was too quick to the plate, which threw off his mechanics and control.
According to Zavada, it was catcher Miguel Montero that got him back on track after the walk Friday.
“The first guy I just felt uncomfortable, but then Miggy came out and basically just calmed me down and said you’re not helping yourself here by trying to think because that’s not my thing,” Zavada said. “That was good coaching on his part. Miggy helped me out a lot. No doubt in my mind it would have been a bad outing if he hadn’t come out and said something to me. It was a positive outing and it could have been ugly.”
It seems he’s starting to get the feel for the breaking ball again.
“I threw a couple of good breaking balls,” Zavada said. “They weren’t way out there, they weren’t hitting the guy, they were down in the zone with good bend and I was real confident behind it, which helps. I wasn’t throwing it with confidence, that was my main thing and today I was.”
Hinch reminded Zavada after his outing not to put too much pressure on himself to be perfect
WORKING HARD: Ian Kennedy had a nice outing against the A’s, but it wasn’t easy.
The right-hander held the A’s to one hit and one walk over three innings, yet nearly ended up reaching his pitch count before he could get through the third. Manager A.J. Hinch said he told Kennedy before the third that he had just 10 pitches left.
After watching Kennedy get out of the inning without going over his limit, Hinch joked that they were going to tell him that before every inning from now on.
“I think I was probably trying to be too fine early on,” Kennedy said of why his pitch count got up there. “Like I would get guys with two strikes and then try to be a little too fine, make it a little too good. They were just taking, they had good eyes and made me throw a lot of pitches.”
Kennedy is a four-seam fastball guy who had fiddled with a two-seamer for a while before finally using it extensively in the Arizona Fall League last year. It was a pitch that worked well for him Friday.
“I feel pretty good with it,” Kennedy said. “I was curious to see how it was when games started, but it seems to still be there. That’s a pitch I need. You look at the best pitchers and they all have it. It’s just a pitch that saves you pitches later on in the game and can get you later in the game.”
So if you’re keeping track at home that means Kennedy’s arsenal includes a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a cut fastball, a curve and a change.
Now, Kennedy is still mainly going to throw his four-seamer, but he’s going to keep working on the two-seamer and he’d like Brandon Webb, who throws one of the best if not the best ones in the game, to show him how he throws his comebacker two-seamer that starts in on a left-hander’s hip and when they give up on it breaks over the inside corner for a strike.
Webb, you may remember, watched Greg Maddux use the pitch and decided to try throwing it and picked it up right away. Chances are it might take Kennedy a little more time.
CAN’T FORGET WEBBY: Webb played catch from about 140 feet and reported that it’s the best he’s felt. We’ll see how he progresses in the next few days, but he seemed very upbeat about it in the clubhouse afterwards.
The D-backs worked out free-agent pitcher Kris Benson on Friday morning over at the club’s Minor League complex according to Arizona GM Josh Byrnes.
Benson threw five innings in a simulated game against Minor Leaguers like Marc Krauss, Ryan Wheeler, Taylor Harbin, Andrew Fie and Doug Deeds.
“He here to work out and we certainly afforded him the opportunity,” Byrnes said.
Benson missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to arm issues and threw just 22 1/3 innings last year with the Rangers.
Byrnes declined to say how Benson looked or how hard he threw and he said the decision to look at Benson was not because the club thinks Brandon Webb might have to start the year on the disabled list.
“”Every club is always wanting to ensure pitching depth,” Byrnes said. “It’s an evaluation worth doing. We’ll see how we proceed.”
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Really there’s nothing new in the Webb story, nothing that has not been obvious for the better part of the last week and that is that it is unlikely that he will be able to start the third game of the season.
Now look, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to start soon after that, it doesn’t mean there’s something further wrong with his shoulder and it certainly is not time to panic about his availability for the long haul of the season.
The man is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had not thrown off a mound for the better part of 11 months. There were bound to be some hiccups along the way. This was never going to be smooth sailing.
Let’s see what happens over the next week or so. It sure sounds like he just needs to get over the hump or plateau that he’s at right now (and by the way I’ve used the word “stagnant” in my stories more in the past week than I previously had used in my entire career). If he’s able to get over that hump/off that plateau/unstagnanted it could be a quick progression for him. If not…well there’s plenty of time to delve into what that means for the team.
I know that GM Josh Byrnes told The Arizona Republic in December “I don’t think there’s any scenario where it doesn’t go well for him and we’re able to overcome that.” But keep in mind that was before the team signed second baseman Kelly Johnson, reliever Bob Howry and first baseman Adam LaRoche so I’m not sure that quote is operative any longer.
Am I saying the D-backs are going to win the NL West without Webb pitching well for most of the season? No. But then again I’m not sure they win the division even with him pitching well for most of the season.
What I am saying is there is a chance they win the division with him and there’s a chance they win it without him. Surely his health will be a big factor, but there are lots of others.
Anyway, that’s more than enough about Webb for one day. Let’s take a look at some other things to come out of the game today:
— You can’t help but be impressed so far with Edwin Jackson. He threw a solid three innings today and was so efficient he had to go down to the bullpen to throw 15 more pitches so he would reach his pitch count for the day.
“Nasty stuff,” catcher Miguel Montero said about Jackson.
“Still trying to work on things,” Jackson said. “Still fine tuning.”
— Reliever Leo Rosales has looked really good this spring. The right-hander allowed a home run to Mike Napoli (what else is new, Napoli has three homers already this spring) but in two spring outings he’s retired six of the seven batters he’s faced.
“Leo’s thrown the ball well,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said.
Rosales kind of flew under the radar a bit last year — he pitched better than you think — and is out of Minor League options. It would not surprise me in the least if he makes the team out of Spring Training.
— Tony Abreu = en fuego.
Abreu started at third Thursday so if you’re keeping track at home he’s played second, short and third this spring. He was 2-for-3 with a double and a couple of plays in the field.
“Abreu continues to shine,” Hinch said.
Spent some time talking with Abreu after the game and it’s clear he’s feeling very confident and realizes the opportunity that he has to make this team.
— Chris Snyder hit his first home run of the spring, but more importantly has now played three days in a row — catching, dhing and catching — and has not had any issues with his surgically-repaired back.
— Aaron Heilman, who looked shaky in his first outing of the spring looked sharp striking out a pair in one inning. Since allowing four runs in one inning last Friday against the Cubs, the right-hander has allowed one hit in two innings.
First things first, here are links to a couple of stories from today:
Webb urges patience in judging rehab
Reynolds contract talks continue
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Chris Young put together another good day at the plate Saturday going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and three RBIs against the Giants. Friday against the Cubs he had a line-drive double to the gap in left.
“It felt good,” Young said. “Scottsdale Stadium always brings a lot of energy. Packed house, lots of D-backs fans out there today.”
Young, who spent the offseason working with a track coach on becoming more explosive, had a bunt single in the first inning. Bunting is something he also worked at during the offseason. With as hard as he hits the ball to the left side, third basemen tend to play him deep, which would seem to give him an opportunity to lay the ball down some.
“I’ve got to use my speed more,” Young said.
In what has to be a good sign for the D-backs even the out Young made — a strikeout in the second inning — he worked the count and battled during the at-bat.
STARTING OPTIONS: Before the game I asked GM Josh Byrnes if Brandon Webb was not ready for the opener would he look to add a starter.
“I think we want to evaluate the guys we have and give them a chance,” Byrnes replied. “Like any spring, we have a good idea of players that could be available for a variety of reasons and we’ve got to scout them and decide whether we believe they would be upgrades, particularly if there’s an absence. Generally that activity happens at the end of the month, if there is anything like that. We’re in communication with our scouts so they’re aware of a hit list.”
NICE DEBUT: Edwin Jackson worked two scoreless innings in his first appearance in an Arizona uniform. The right-hander allowed a pair of hits and fanned one.
“I felt pretty good for the first day,” Jackson said. “Stayed around the plate for the most part, commanded the pitches, not a bad first outing.”
Jackson said he threw all his pitches — curve, slider, change.
“Pretty much came with the full arsenal today just to see how it is,” he said.
When asked if he was working on anything he said, “Stay around the strike zone, make them put the ball in play. Get used to pitching to contact and let the defense work behind me.”
Jackson did do one thing that gave Hinch pause. In the second he laid down a sacrifice bunt and stretched for the base at first nearly colliding with Aubrey Huff.
“I could have done without that lunge at first base,” Hinch said with a smile.
EVEN DOZEN: Arizona manager A.J. Hinch has hedged as to how many pitchers the team will carry to start the year, but Byrnes said Saturday he would prefer they keep 12 with 13 position players.
LOOKING GOOD: Tony Abreu drew praise from Hinch for the second straight day for his play at shortstop this spring.
“I’m impressed,” Hinch said. “I think he plays with great energy and has a knack for finding the ball.”
Abreu has made several nice defensive plays this spring and is Hinch said “right in the thick of it” for the final spot on the bench.
Hinch added that the club could carry both Augie Ojeda and Abreu.
STOP!: The big inning has been a problem for the D-backs in their first three games.
The Rockies had rallies of three and four runs in the opener, the Cubs put up a four-spot Friday and the Giants scored nine runs in the fifth Saturday.
“Those big innings are not what we want to see,” Hinch said. “That’s a point that we’ll recognize. Control the inning. Being able to stop the bleeding when you have the opportunity to.”