FRISCO, Texas -- Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb's rehab assignment to Double-A Frisco signals an attempt by the club to inch Webb closer to a return to the major leagues.
But Monday's outing shows he's still got a ways to go before he can get there. Webb said it was fun to face hitters again in an official game, something he hadn't done since Opening Day 2009. But he left too many balls up, couldn't finish off enough hitters and still didn't have great velocity on his fastball. He gave up five runs on eight hits with two walks, two strikeouts and a hit batsman in 3 1/3 innings of work.
Could all of that still come around? Sure. It's just not there yet.
Webb's velocity has been well chronicled. And to be honest, there's probably way too much emphasis on it. But the bottom line is that he can't be summoned to Texas with a fastball at 84 mph, which is about where it was on Monday.
"I feel like I let them go and it sounds hard and I'm like, 'That's pretty good,'" Webb said. "And I look up and it's 84. I don't know when it's going to come back or if it will. Hopefully it does.
"But if it is  than I’ve got have a decent changeup, curveball and have to be able to locate it down in the zone, which I wasn’t able to do today. That will have to be the equalizer.”
The key is the difference between his fastball and that off-speed stuff. But he likely has to get the fastball to around 88 mph consistently, and then he'll need that sinker to drop off the table and the curve to be a pitch he can throw for strikes and get hitters out. He did throw some effective sinkers on Monday. And you can't fault Webb's desire or attitude. He stays positive and is committed to doing everything he can to get his mechanics figured out so he can return.
Webb hopes to get on a regular starting schedule to pitch every five days. But Monday showed he'll have to get the velocity up and improve his command if he's going to eventually end up in Arlington helping the Rangers.