Will Webb's return come too late for Arizona?

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Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb has been sidelined with a strained
shoulder muscle since struggling in his Opening Day start, but played
catch from 120 feet earlier this week and said yesterday that he’s still hoping to return before the All-Star break.

Before he can think about rejoining Arizona’s rotation Webb will have
to stretch his arm out to throwing from 150 feet, progress to pitching
off a mound, throw several bullpen sessions, and then complete a
minor-league rehab assignment.

In other words, he’s still facing a long road back. Or as Webb put
it: “You can’t just start going into games right away. You’ve got to
build your arm up.”

Arizona has filled Webb’s spot in the rotation
with Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner, and Bryan Augenstein, who’ve
combined to post a 6.80 ERA while the team goes 2-7 in nine starts. If
you assume for a moment that a healthy Webb would have reversed those
figures with the team going 7-2 in his starts, the Diamondbacks could
be sitting at 26-22 right now and Bob Melvin would probably still be
managing.

Unfortunately instead they’re holding the fourth-worst record in the
league at 21-27 and even if Webb is able to return by the All-Star
break the Diamondbacks will likely be completely out of the NL West
picture (they’re already 12.5 games back of the Dodgers) and may also
be trailing by double-digit games in Wild Card race (they’re 6.0 games
behind the Brewers right now).

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.