Brandon Webb threw off flat ground on Saturday morning, his first throwing session since saying he felt “stagnant” last week. Manager A.J. Hinch told John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse that he was encouraged by the right-hander’s progress:
“He showed more life in his arm today,” Hinch said. “Throwing a few
breaking balls may not sound like big news, but it is to us. That means
he’s able to throw without reservation, and that’s big.”
Assuming his surgically-repaired shoulder feels up to snuff, the Diamondbacks hope he can throw a bullpen session within the next week or so before facing live hitters for the first time. Still, Hinch recognizes that time is working against Webb:
“Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Dan Haren have all thrown twice (in spring
games) and are working on their third time,” Hinch said. “He hasn’t
thrown off a mound yet while other rotation candidates are stretching
themselves out in games. The fact that we are running out of time for
him (to start games in the first week of the season) is fairly obvious.”
If Webb opens the season on the disabled list, as expected, that would push Billy Buckner up to fourth in the rotation. And technically, because the Diamondbacks have two days off in the first eight days of the new season, they probably wouldn’t even need a fifth starter until the beginning of the third week of the season. Still, if Webb isn’t ready by then, Hinch will have to choose between an uninspiring group that includes Kevin Mulvey, Rodrigo Lopez, Cesar Valdez, Bryan Augenstein and as mentioned earlier, possibly Kris Benson.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.