The Texas Rangers are optimistic that right-hander Brandon Webb, two years removed from shoulder surgery, will be able to pitch out of their starting rotation this season.
They also are realistic that in all likelihood Webb will be an in-season addition to the rotation, not a season-opening member.
While the Rangers opened their exhibition season on Sunday, Webb was throwing off the mound for the first time this spring. Given the battle he has had to get healthy the last two years, it is difficult to see how he could get the necessary arm strength to be ready to pitch in the big leagues on Opening Day.
More likely, he will be building up arm strength at the minor-league level.
"We will see how it plays out going along," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He will let us know (by how he responds) where he is.
"If he is ready opening day, great. If he is not ready it is no big deal. … I would rather him as Brandon Webb, whatever date that is."
A three-time All-Star, who was the NL Cy Young winner in 2006 and went 22-7 in 2008, Webb was 87-62 with a 3.24 ERA in his first six big-league seasons. In the last two seasons, however, he has been limited to one four-inning appearance — on Opening Day in 2009 — because of the shoulder problems, which finally resulted in right shoulder surgery in August of that season.
— Tracy Ringolsby