Brandon Webb has come to grips to the fact that what likely will be his last season with the Diamondbacks will be abbreviated by at least a few weeks.
Webb had not thrown to hitters the first three weeks of spring, not even in batting practice, and it seems certain that he will open the season on the disabled list while continuing to recover from August debridement surgery on his right shoulder.
"I don't care when I come back, as long as I get some time in," said Webb, whose contract expires after 2010.
Even if Webb makes steady progress from this point, he will be about two weeks behind the rest of the starters. When spring training opened, Webb was slotted into the third spot in the rotation behind Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson, with his initial start scheduled for April 7.
While no Webb is not a good thing (see 2009, when he made one start and the D-backs went 70-92), it could be worse for Arizona. Because the D-backs have two off days in the first eight days, they will not need a fifth starter until April 17. The number 5 starter will not be needed regularly until April 27, which is the fifth game in a stretch of 20 straight.
Ian Kennedy and Billy Buckner are the fourth and fifth starters at this point of spring training, and each could be bumped up in the rotation, leaving Rodrigo Lopez, Kevin Mulvey, Cesar Valdez, and Bryan Augenstein as candidates to slide into the rotation until Webb is ready.
"This might not be the worst thing in the world," Haren said. "I think we have enough pitching to at least hold our heads above water until he comes back. And when he comes back, it will be a nice little shot in the arm. If it's May, if it's the end of April, it will be nice to have him back 100 percent.
"No one wants him to come back 80 percent. We want him 100 percent in August, September. Those are the months that are really going to matter."
--C Chris Snyder, who underwent a discectomy in his lower back in September after suffering an initial injury in last year's spring training, played three consecutive games the first week of spring training and homered in the third. He caught twice and played DH once, and manager A.J. Hinch said he would try to get both Snyder and C Miguel Montero extra work in minor league games to make sure both are in game shape at the start of the regular season. Snyder enters the season as the backup for the first time since 2005.
--INF Tony Abreu is making a strong early impression. Abreu, in the mix for the final reserve spot on a team that will likely carry 13 position players, had 10 hits in his first 20 at-bats. Included was a home run and a triple against his former team, the Dodgers, on March 10. Abreu was obtained as the player to be named in the deal that sent RHP Jon Garland to Los Angeles last August 31.
--The D-backs renewed the contracts of 3B Mark Reynolds and RHP Ian Kennedy on March 11 and agreed to one-year deals with 20 other pre-arbitration eligible players: INF Tony Abreu, 1B Brandon Allen, RHP Bryan Augenstein, RHP Billy Buckner, SS Pedro Ciriaco, OF Cole Gillespie, RHP Juan Gutierrez, C John Hester, LHP Zach Kroenke, RHP Jose Marte, RHP Roque Mercedes, RHP Kevin Mulvey, LHP Jordan Norberto, OF Gerardo Parra, INF Ryan Roberts, INF Rusty Ryal, RHP Daniel Stange, RHP Cesar Valdez, RHP Esmerling Vasquez, and LHP Clay Zavada. Reynolds will earn $500,000 this season.
--Former D-backs 1B Tony Clark was hired by the Major League Baseball Players Association as the director of player relations, a newly created position. Clark, who played with the D-backs from 2005-09 with a brief stop in San Diego in 2007, became active in union affairs in 1999. In his final seven seasons, he served as one of two associated representatives, the most senior position a player can have within the union. "I am excited to begin this next chapter of my life by doing my best to ensure that the MLBPA remains a strong and cohesive union," Clark said.
--When Dodgers OF Matt Kemp batted out of order with runners on first and second and two outs in the third inning of an exhibition game March 10, Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch was prepared. Kemp either would make an out (he did) or be declared out, because the Dodgers were hitting out of order.
"The inning was over. Nothing could have happened that would have hurt us. I was on the top step, waiting for a walk, a hit by pitch, a single, a homer. Anything that Kemp would have done, we would have had the first controversy," Hinch said. "I kind of wanted Kemp to get a hit. Nothing against (RHP Bob) Howry, but that would have been fun to kill their momentum."
While Kemp was listed as fourth in the lineup widely distributed before the game, he was listed third and Andre Ethier fourth on the official lineup card the Dodgers gave plate umpire Mike Winters before the game.
DIAMOND STAT: .625 -- OF Conor Jackson's batting average in his first five spring games after missing the final five months of 2009 with valley fever.
QUOTABLE: "The mound is a lonely place for young relievers." -- Manager A.J. Hinch, referring to the bullpen depth provided by the winter acquisitions of veteran RHPs Aaron Heilman and Bob Howry.
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