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Friday, March 12, 2004
Webb rewarded after filling in for Big Unit

Associated Press

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Arizona signed right-hander Brandon Webb to an incentive-laden three-year contract Friday that Jerry Colangelo said sends a message to Diamondbacks fans.

 Brandon Webb

"Our fans should know that we are committed to building and adding to a young roster," the Diamondbacks' managing general partner said. "We have a blend of both veterans and young players. And Brandon is not only the future, he's the present."

Webb, 24, was 10-9 in his rookie season last year with an impressive 2.84 ERA in 28 starts. Called up from Double-A Tucson after Randy Johnson went on the DL with a sore knee, he struck out 172 in 180 2-3 innings and walked only 68.

The contract guarantees $3.3 million over the first three years, with a club option on a fourth. Meeting most of the incentives would make the deal worth almost $10 million.

"It makes me want to work that much harder to prove to fans and prove to people that I deserve this," Webb said.

He said he does not expect any problems with added pressure to perform.

"I'm not going to focus too much on it, just go out there and pitch my game like I did last year and get people out and win ball games for us."

General manager Joe Garagiola said the deal contained several incentive clauses.

"This contract contains a lot of provisions," Garagiola said. "I don't know if they're unique. But they certainly go beyond the run-of-the mill contract, which allows the contract to be responsive to what Brandon does out there on the field."

Giving a guaranteed long-term deal to a second-year player is somewhat unusual.

"One thing I know for sure is we're going to get a maximum effort out of Brandon every time he takes the ball," said manager Bob Brenly. "And that's really all you can ask. I appreciate his consistency of effort. I know we're going to get that every time Brandon goes out there."

With Johnson back and apparently healthy, Webb could give the Diamondbacks a formidable rotation.

"On a different pitching staff without a Randy Johnson, he might be the guy you consider the ace to build the staff around," Brenly said.

"Certainly Randy is that guy for this team. But now with Brandon in the fold for the foreseeable future ... I consider myself very fortunate to have two guys that are the kind of guys you build rotations around."