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.
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.