Brandon Webb started an extended spring training game yesterday and finally showed signs of rediscovering his pre-surgery velocity levels.
Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports that Webb threw four innings and “hit 86 mph a handful of times with his fastball, likely averaging around 84 mph.”
That may not sound very encouraging at first glance, but prior to missing essentially two straight seasons with shoulder problems Webb averaged just 88 miles per hour with his fastball.
His success has never been due to an overpowering fastball and as recently as last week his velocity was said to be in the high-70s and low-80s, so if the readings reported by Durrett are accurate Webb finally appears to have made some significant progress.
Webb will take the mound again for 4-5 innings Tuesday in Arizona, but there’s no timetable yet for his return from the disabled list.
We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.
McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.
Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.
The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.