The Rangers didn’t like the look of things in one of Brandon Webb’s first bullpen sessions of the spring, so they asked him to do only flat-ground throwing until he developed a little more strength in his chronically troublesome right shoulder.
Today, they let him back on a mound.
It was his first bullpen session in 10 days, and he reported feeling no abnormal pain or discomfort.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan was on hand to check on Webb, who agreed to an incentive-driven one-year, $3 million contract this winter and is expected to compete for a rotation spot this March. Here’s what Ryan told Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:
“I don’t think you put a timeframe on it because you want to do what’s in the best interest for him and the club and so you monitor it and make a decision at some point in time. It also depends on how the other pitchers are doing. Like a conversation I had with him earlier today, as long as you feel like each time out you’re making progress, that’s what you look for and I think that’s the way we should gauge it with him.”
Webb hasn’t pitched in the majors since the opening week of the 2009 season and his status for the opening of the 2011 season is still largely up in the air. But he was a perennial Cy Young Award contender before he got injured, and, at just 31, it’s not like he’s an old man. Maybe there’s some magic left in that sinker of his.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.