"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't feel great but it doesn't hurt bad... I still feel like I can't let it go. I can get through a throwing session, but I feel like I'm not ready to get on a mound."
-- Brandon Webb
Since April Fool's Day is now over, I took our fictitious story about Webb off the front-page, but there was some legitimate news on the shoulder of our Troubled Ace (TM). As noted, he met with the team physician Dr. Michael Lee on Wednesday, but it appears there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the limb in question. Webb had a cortisone shot, hoping that will get him out of the rehab doldrums in which he has been mired for most of March.
Details after the jump.
It's been exactly four weeks since Webb's last bullpen session, after which he complained that his arm felt "stagnant." Since then, he has been mostly relegated to rest and long-toss: he got as far as throwing a few pitches off the front of the pitcher's mound, but it appears that went poorly enough to merit the trip to Dr. Lee. Certainly, Hinch's description at the start of of this as it being "a bump in the road where he’s plateaued a bit," is beginning to look a bit like the Diamondbacks' equivalent of "Houston, we've had a problem." [and yes, that is the actual quote]
Now, Hinch said, "It gets to the point where you've got to go find some answers one way or the other. Until he can accelerate his arm at a speed that would represent a full-speed delivery, there's no reason to do it. Arm strength and arm speed are the two things we're focused on the most." After the cortisone shot, Webb will take the next two days off, and throw again on Sunday, but it's all completely tentative at the moment. "I don't know what's next... We feel like based on the doctor's report that this might be exactly what he needed. It's been a little slower for him than anybody anticipated, but it is what it is and now we have to try and get him better." Here's more from Hinch on the topic:
"There are mental hurdles to clear. I think there are physical hurdles to clear in terms of the workload, and these dead periods show up from time to time in the recovery process. When to push him, when to lay back on him, when to accelerate his deals has been very hot and cold this spring. That's the frustrating part for everybody involved. It's been a little on again, off again."
One does wonder why he's getting a cortisone shot, which is used to reduce inflammation. Webb hardly looks to hae been over-taxed of late, so what is responsible for the inflammation? It now seems all but definite that he won't be appearing in a D-backs uniform this month. Will Carroll wrote about the anticipated timetable on Baseball Prospectus [sorry, subscription only for the full details] and said, "Let's assume that he gets up on a mound in the next 10 days and doesn't have issues. He'll need a couple side sessions at least before going on a rehab assignment. He'd need two, maybe three games there, which puts us out somewhere around 30 days. The key here is getting up on the mound, throwing at full force, and not having a setback. Until Webb does that, it's all just guesswork and hope."
Yep: if Mystique and Aura were the two New York showgirls we mugged in 2001, then it looks like their ugly sisters, Guesswork and Hope are moving into downtown Phoenix, at least as far as Brandon Webb and our rotation is concerned. The rumors, noted by njjohn in his fanpost, that we are trying to trade for a #3, suggest the team is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, which is probably sensible.