Prior to Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, injured Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb threw a simulated game of 52 pitches. This marks the first time Webb has thrown to live batters and is a litmus test to determine a timetable of when he may return.
By all accounts the simulated game went well. Webb threw primarily fastballs and his velocity ranged from 80-82 miles per hour. The ball seemed to have some life too it. Hitters who faced Webb commented that while the velocity was down, the movement was still there.
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre seemed pleased with the progress Webb has made and was all smiles after the session. Webb too was happy with his performance calling it the best he has felt in months.
The question remained how would Webb feel a day after throwing that many pitches. Webb made himself available to reporters willing to answer questions about his health and how his arm felt.
Webb’s spirits were high during this press event explaining to everyone that his arm felt great with just normal soreness that usually accompanies the day after pitching. He expressed his desire to get out there and throw again hoping to be ready for game situations by mid-September.
Diamondbacks training staff and coaches are a little more cautious stating they will continue to monitor Webb’s progress throwing an additional 2-3 simulated games before deciding whether he could be activated from the 60-day disabled list.
Webb’s return from shoulder surgery has been very time consuming not going nearly as quickly as anyone would have liked. Interestingly enough San Diego Padres starter Chris Young made a re-hab start on Saturday and came away with similar positive results to what Webb experienced.
Shoulder surgeries can be tricky and everyone is different in how they respond to treatments. I’ve been through three such surgeries and can tell you it’s not easy. Each one was different. With the first it took me nearly 17 months before I could throw again with any accuracy and without pain.
The second surgery I was back throwing within six months. The final surgery was well over a year. Given that track record I am impressed with Webb’s comeback to be able to throw at an elite level within a year is admirable.
Some have suggested Webb is rushing back to show he is healthy in order to cash in on a new contract. While that no doubt is weighing on his mind, I don’t think that is the primary factor. Webb has sat by and watched the only team he has ever known struggle for two seasons without him.
He would like nothing better than to return and help his teammates regardless of what capacity that might take. The question is, would the Diamondbacks be interested in resigning him to a contract for next year or will they cut ties with their long-time ace?
That question was asked of Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall on Saturday. His reply was that Arizona would be interested in talking with Webb and his representatives to gauge whether there is interest from both sides in bringing Webb back to the desert.
Given his injury and length of recovery Webb’s next contract would most likely be incentive laden based on games or innings pitched. The Diamondbacks have historically been opposed to such deals so it will be interesting to see what they can come up with that would meet Webb’s needs while protecting the team in case he is unable to perform.
The next two weeks hold a lot of questions for Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks. It will be interesting to see how they play out and whether we have seen the last of Brandon Webb in an Arizona Diamondbacks jersey.