SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Brandon Webb knows way too much about rushing things. Even so, he wants to start the season in the Texas Rangers’ rotation.
The former NL Cy Young winner, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2009 opener for Arizona because of shoulder surgery, threw an eight-minute bullpen session Thursday when Texas pitchers and catchers held their first workout of spring training.
“Everything’s pointing to getting started at the beginning of the year and that’s my No. 1 goal,” Webb said. “(The Rangers) are not so set on that. They want to make sure I’m there at the end.”
After pitching more than 200 innings in five consecutive seasons, Webb developed shoulder trouble. He had surgery in August 2009, then missed all of last season after pushing himself too hard to try to get back on the mound.
“It started in spring training. I was six months out, and three weeks after that I was on the mound. I wanted to keep pushing through it but it didn’t work out,” Webb said. “It’s like you’re fighting yourself when the biggest thing has been time. You have to go through the process to get back to where you want to be.”
For Webb, that is being part of the rotation for the AL champions sooner rather than later.
“He’s expressed to a number of people he’s ready to go. We’ll be cautious by nature,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “It’s good news when a player says he’s ready to go. It’s common sense that he missed two years.”
Daniels said Webb has been medically cleared and is on the pretty much the same program as the rest of the pitchers. Except for now, Webb is scheduled to throw every third day instead of every other day.
“He wants to go 100 percent. Our goal is to have him strong as possible for as long as possible during the season,” Daniels said. “We may try to rein him a little bit in the beginning to give him the best chance of doing that.”
The Rangers signed the 2006 NL Cy Young winner to a $3 million, one-year deal with the chance to earn another $5 million in bonuses. The deal with Webb came just weeks after they lost ace left-hander Cliff Lee, another former Cy Young winner, in free agency.
Former reliever C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis are penciled in as 1-2 in the rotation. Wilson won 15 games in his first full season in the rotation while Lewis was 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA in his return from Japan to the Rangers before going 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts.
The Rangers are also giving give hard-throwing righty Neftali Feliz a shot at being a major league starter. He was the AL rookie of the year last season with 40 saves, a major league rookie record.
“We know with Feliz starting is something he’s done all his career,” manager Ron Washington said. “We decided to stretch him out and see if he can get to command his secondary stuff and how that progresses.”
If Feliz becomes a starter, the potential closers are Alexi Ogando and Mark Lowe.
Webb said his offseason throwing program went good. He threw off the mound a couple of times at home before getting to Arizona this week, where he threw long toss three times before the first team workout.
“From the bullpens and everything, the movement’s still good, the changeup’s still good,” he said. “I don’t know when I’ll stop worrying about it. Maybe live batting practice or that first game I’ll put it behind me. … You just have to go out there and throw.”
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