By Matt Snyder
The only thing between Brandon Webb and finally reaching a minor-league rehab stint is a bullpen session, which will occur Friday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. If there are no setbacks, Webb will head to Double-A Frisco for a rehab start Monday (ESPN Dallas). This is pretty significant news because players are only permitted rehab stints for 30 days. This step wouldn't be taken unless Webb was within a month of being ready to hit the bigs.
Webb threw six innings in an extended spring training game Tuesday, allowing just one run while striking out six and walking none. His velocity has been a concern in the past several weeks, as Webb has been sitting in the high 70s and low 80s. He was able to hit 84 in his latest outing, so it's at least mild progress. The Rangers reportedly believe he only needs to work that up into the 88 range to keep his off-speed pitches effective.
Webb had shoulder surgery in August of 2009 and hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since then.
From 2006-2008, you could have made a pretty good argument Webb was the best pitcher in baseball. He won the 2006 NL Cy Young award and finished as the runner-up in both 2007 and 2008. In those three seasons, he went 56-25 with a 3.13 ERA, 12 complete games and seven shutouts.
It remains to be seen how Webb would fit into the Rangers' rotation. C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando are surely locked in. Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have both shown good-to-great flashes while being inconsistent.
The decision is probably a month away, though, and that's assuming no setbacks to a man who has had setback after setback for the past three seasons.
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