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Will Webb's return come too late for Arizona?

May 29, 2009, 11:30 AM EDT

Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb has been sidelined with a strained
shoulder muscle since struggling in his Opening Day start, but played
catch from 120 feet earlier this week and said yesterday that he’s still hoping to return before the All-Star break.

Before he can think about rejoining Arizona’s rotation Webb will have
to stretch his arm out to throwing from 150 feet, progress to pitching
off a mound, throw several bullpen sessions, and then complete a
minor-league rehab assignment.

In other words, he’s still facing a long road back. Or as Webb put
it: “You can’t just start going into games right away. You’ve got to
build your arm up.”

Arizona has filled Webb’s spot in the rotation
with Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner, and Bryan Augenstein, who’ve
combined to post a 6.80 ERA while the team goes 2-7 in nine starts. If
you assume for a moment that a healthy Webb would have reversed those
figures with the team going 7-2 in his starts, the Diamondbacks could
be sitting at 26-22 right now and Bob Melvin would probably still be
managing.

Unfortunately instead they’re holding the fourth-worst record in the
league at 21-27 and even if Webb is able to return by the All-Star
break the Diamondbacks will likely be completely out of the NL West
picture (they’re already 12.5 games back of the Dodgers) and may also
be trailing by double-digit games in Wild Card race (they’re 6.0 games
behind the Brewers right now).

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