ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb and general manager Jon Daniels are not fans of timetables. Asked repeatedly if Webb's shoulder will make him ready to start the season in the rotation, both Webb and Daniels said they'd have to wait until spring training starts.
"I set timetables last year and it was a little bit unrealistic," Webb said. "I sure hope I’m going to be ready full go. To be there Opening Day, that's my goal for sure. That's very reachable, but I have to see how things go."
Daniels didn't want to put any pressure on his new pitcher, signed for $3 million in base salary and another $5 million in incentives.
"We have same goal of Brandon pitching meaningful innings," Daniels said. "We’d love for him to be ready by Opening Day, but we're going to keep our eye on the big picture and on what’s best for him."
If Webb pitches in meaningful games for most of the season -- even 150 innings -- the Rangers would consider that a success. They got the starter in the hopes that his sinker ball and changeup are just as effective in 2011 as they were in 2008 before he missed most of the last two seasons with shoulder issues. If they are come August and September and the team is in the hunt (as expected), it will be worth the contract.
Webb pitched in the Instructional League for Arizona at the end of 2010 and said he felt more comfortable.
"My velocity got better, my stuff got better," Webb said "I feel good about where I'm at."
Webb noted that he's not a guy who's had success because he can blow fastballs by anybody. He's a pitcher that makes a living on location and his ability to get ground balls with the sinker, a pitch that is particularly useful at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers are confident that he'll continue to progress, but they won't rush him. Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister did the shoulder debrivement surgery on Webb in August 2009 (cleaning out of loose debris and inflamed tissue) and the club believes Webb is where he should be at this point following the surgery.
"He’s seen my shoulder closer htan anybody’s seen it," Webb said. "I’ve kept in touch with him the whole time. Having him here was a little bit of a draw for me."
Webb said he also wanted to come to a place where he was wanted and he definitely felt that when talking with the Rangers. Now his goal is to get fully healthy and return to the level that helped him earn the 2006 NL Cy Young Award and made him an All-Star in 2007 and 2008.
"I hope to jump right in," Webb said. "There’s no limitations at all for me. I'm carrying on like any pre-spring training workouts. I want to get to work with [pitching coach Mike Maddux] and throw the live bullpens and live BPs."
Webb is not on a mound yet and is throwing as part of his offseason routine. He'll map out a plan with the Rangers and go from there as spring training kicks off in mid-February.