Jason Grey of ESPN.com was on hand for Brandon Webb’s extended spring training start yesterday and filed a report that suggests the former Cy Young winner is still nowhere near full strength more than two years after shoulder problems first surfaced.
Webb threw two scoreless innings against the Mariners’ extended spring squad, but Grey notes that his highest velocity on 12 fastballs thrown was 84 miles per hour. According to Grey (and the Rangers, who confirmed the radar readings) he threw one at 84, one at 82, and “the rest 78-81.”
Webb told Grey afterward that he thought the outing went “better than expected,” but throwing in the low-80s after numerous setbacks paints an awfully pessimistic picture for his chances of contributing positively to the Rangers this season. Even before the injury his velocity wasn’t overpowering, as he averaged 87-89 miles per hour, but it’s a long way from 78-81 to 88-90 and Webb seemingly isn’t making any progress.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.