Having gone through three reconstructive shoulder surgeries on my throwing arm, I am in a unique position of understanding exactly what Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb is going through.
In August 2009, Webb underwent what is described as “debridlement” on his shoulder to clean up some loose ends and strengthen the shoulder. Personally mine was a little more severe than that with doctors repairing a torn labrum, and bi-directional instability of the shoulder joint.
I went through several months of tedious rehabilitation with even the simplest of exercises such as moving a towel on a table seeming difficult. Each day where you have a good day and feel as though you are progressing is followed by a day where you seem to regress back two steps.
A positive attitude and following the letter and the spirit of the law as given by the trainers and medical staff is the only way you can deal with the mental rigors of getting back onto the field.
I remember marking on my calendar the day when I could actually start throwing a baseball again. It was a huge milestone in my road back to being able to play. That date was followed several weeks later with another milestone when I could actually throw a baseball off the mound.
Webb has gone through a similar process. His time to return is guided on the healing process which is equal parts physical and mental. In early November Webb began playing light toss and worked up to playing catch.
He was then shut down for a couple of months before returning to begin throwing again. Each time he has thrown he came away encouraged at how he felt.
Yesterday marked the second milestone in his recovery. Webb threw for the first time off an elevated mound. The throwing session was light and nowhere near the point where you could classify him as recovered.
His outlook remained positive as he threw trying to find the proper arm slot from the mound. I’m sure he was cautious and his mind probably lingered whether the arm would respond when throwing. That should be expected.
The true test will be tomorrow when Webb gets up to see how his arm feels. The Diamondbacks will undoubtedly take it very slow with Webb giving him extra time between sessions initially and easing his workload back to what would be normal.
Webb remains optimistic that he can be ready for the beginning of the 2010 season. The Arizona Diamondbacks and their fans are likewise anxious hoping Webb will return to his dominating self taking his place at the front of the Arizona rotation.
For the team to have success in the 2010 season, they will need a healthy Webb who can give them 20 to 30 starts throughout the year. Just the thought of that makes my surgically repaired arm hurt.