Brandon Webb finally provided some reason for optimism last week by tossing three shutout innings in a rehab start at Double-A, but that all vanished in his follow-up start Sunday when he failed to make it out of the first inning while allowing four runs.
Afterward the rehabbing former Cy Young winner told Louie Horvath of MLB.com that he “felt pretty good” and “didn’t think there was a hard-hit ball” among the six hits he allowed while recording two outs, saying: “There were four of them that were ground balls in the hole, one little blooper.”
Even at his best Webb never succeeded because of his velocity, so inducing lots of ground balls is a good sign for one of the most ground-ball heavy pitchers in baseball, but ultimately he has an 11.57 ERA in three starts at Double-A and hasn’t faced big-league hitters since Opening Day of 2009. Texas is running out of time to get anything from their $3 million investment.
Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale made a hasty exit from his final Grapefruit League outing on Saturday after sustaining a left hip contusion. He was struck on the leg with a line drive from the Astros’ J.D. Davis in the first inning and immediately collapsed on the mound. He was able to walk off the field without a noticeable limp, however, and later told reporters that the ball struck a nerve and temporarily stunned his leg. As a precautionary move, the Red Sox pulled him after the incident and will have the left-hander undergo X-rays to rule out any further injury to his hip.
This was expected to be Sale’s last start of spring training. Prior to Saturday’s matinee against the Astros, the 28-year-old southpaw made three starts in camp, allowing five runs, one home run, three walks and striking out 18 batters in 14 innings. He’s still on track to start the season for the Red Sox during their road opener against the Rays next Thursday.