Brandon Webb already having problems with his shoulder

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The Rangers’ experiment with former Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb has already hit a snag.

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are now limiting Webb to purely flat-ground work in camp because they’re not confident in the strength of his throwing shoulder, which has been giving him problems now for two straight years. He has been banned from the mound indefinitely.

Webb, 32 in May, hasn’t pitched in a big league game since the first week of the 2009 season. He had a 3.24 ERA and averaged 14 wins per year from 2003-2008 and the Rangers forked over a one-year, $3 million contract to him this winter that carries another $5 million in performance-based incentives. But it sounds like the right-hander has a long way to go before he can begin trying to earn that money.

For now, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is saying that Webb is only a week behind. We’ll see if that holds.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.