Diamondbacks Ace Brandon Webb Relearning to Pitch

The continuing saga of Brandon Webb continued on the journey that began on Opening Day 2009 when he suffered an arm injury. The injury was with his pitching shoulder and after a lengthy rehabilitation schedule Webb succumbed to season ending surgery.

Webb and his representatives described the surgery as minor. Terms such as “slight clean up” and “quick recovery” were bantered about. The Diamondbacks felt confident Webb would return to his dominating self in time to help the team for the 2010 season.

Webb reported to Spring Training with hopes to be ready for Opening Day. After a series of “small setbacks” Webb was pushed back. It quickly became apparent Opening Day was out of the question.

Everyone was confident Webb would return in the first couple of weeks of the season. That time table continued to be pushed back as Webb struggled to figure out what his arm could and could not withstand.

Before long, both Webb and the Diamondbacks became frustrated with the lack of progress. The same questions would be asked almost daily; questions that no one could accurately answer.

Recovering from shoulder surgery is different for every person and obviously with Webb it was taking longer than anyone expected. The Diamondbacks began implementing back-up plans to buy time until their ace could return.

The relationship between Webb and the team has been strained at best this past year after the Diamondbacks pulled a contract extension off the table after questions arose over the condition of his arm.

The team held an option on this season and there were times where it seemed as though Webb was almost daring them to not exercise their rights and cut him loose. The Diamondbacks showed good faith picking up the option even before Webb was able to throw after surgery.

This week Webb went in for another visit with the orthopedic surgeon and his staff where they did a biomechanical evaluation and determined Webb’s arm angle was too steep to allow recovery.

In talking to reporters afterwards Webb was clearly frustrated and expressed that he felt he had wasted all of this recovery time due to the Diamondbacks lack of addressing or notifying him of the change in his arm slot.

To the team’s credit, their spokespersons have been very diplomatic and are at least publicly standing behind Webb offering whatever help or assistance he needs. The prognosis is that Webb will not throw from a mound until he feels comfortable with a new arm slot.

There is no timetable established to say how long that will take. In the mean time the Diamondbacks will need to develop a longer term plan for their pitching staff.

Webb will work with Diamondbacks pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and the team’s training staff to develop the muscle memory necessary to maintain a consistent arm slot, one that is more sidearm than where he has been throwing.

The odds of Webb coming back this season are looking more and more like a long shot. If that is the case, Webb will spend the 2010 season playing catch in the outfield and wondering whether he will ever return to the Chase Field mound as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.


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