Brandon Webb begins 'long, long road to recovery'

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Out since Opening Day with a strained right shoulder, Brandon Webb has been throwing off flat ground for several weeks and is scheduled to take the next big step in what Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic calls “his long, long road to recovery” with a bullpen session Friday.

Webb said yesterday that his shoulder “has been pretty good” while he’s
avoided any setbacks. “I feel like this past week, the last three times
throwing, it’s been real good,” Webb said. “I think it just keeps
progressing. We’re moving in the right direction. It feels better than
it’s felt since the season started.”

Of course, Webb’s struggles actually extend back to last year, when
he went 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA in his final seven starts after beginning
the season 19-4 with a 2.74 ERA. As for when he’ll be ready to rejoin
the Diamondbacks’ rotation, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes:
“Mathematically it’s probably still possible for Webb to make it back
before the All-Star break, but it seems far more likely that it will
come sometime soon after.”

Playing without their injured ace since Opening Day, the
Diamondbacks have disappointed all season while posting the league’s
second-worst record at 27-38 to bring up the rear in the NL West.
Arizona is 16 games behind Los Angeles in the division and eight games
behind St. Louis in the Wild Card race, so even if Webb makes it back
at some point next month it may be too late.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.