SARASOTA, Fla. - Ryan Webb’s had a busy offseason, undergoing surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and getting married.
For many people, marriage is far more painful than anything that happens on an operating table, but Webb is an exception. Good for him.
Webb, who signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Orioles in December 2013, had a procedure done to tighten the shoulder capsule.
“I feel great,” he said yesterday after the first day of minicamp. “Should be 100 percent ready to go for spring training. I’m just hammering the rehab process right now, trying to get that strength back. I had that capsule just tightened a little bit. It becomes stiff and now I’m stretching it out and I’m at the point where I’m doing strengthening stuff right now. I’ll probably get back to Florida so I can keep working with Richie (Bancells) and the training staff here and keep it going.
“I’m still right where I’d be any other year throwing-wise. I started Jan. 1 like I would normally do. My range of motion has actually improved significantly the last couple of weeks, so by spring training I should be able to have full range of motion and will be catching balls over my head and stuff like that. I played catch out there today and was fine, so I should be good to go.
“I anticipate not being limited for spring training. I’m still kind of in the rehab process, but it’s going really well and the range of motion is really starting to come back significantly every single day. There hasn’t been any speed bumps or anything like that and I should be 100 percent ready to go this spring.”
Webb won’t point a finger at his shoulder and say it caused him to struggle in July, when he posted an 11.37 ERA in seven appearances. He registered a 1.76 ERA in May and a 1.50 ERA in June.
“I’m not going to say that it did,” he said. “No. It was something that I think was a gradual thing over the years. My left shoulder would get sore sometimes and I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it because it was my non-throwing shoulder. And over the course of last year, there were a few times working out where I had to kind of stop my workout and stuff like that.
“If anything, it should help me having it tightened to not be flying open mechanically and getting way out there. But I wouldn’t say it was an issue last year at all.”
Webb went 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 51 appearances and posted a career-best 3.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he also spent a month at Triple-A Norfolk after being optioned on Aug. 1. His ERA increased from 2.65 to 3.35 after he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning in a July 6 game at Fenway Park.
Webb tossed two scoreless innings in his next appearance, but he allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning on July 20 in Oakland.
“I had a good year,” he said. “I started off really good. I hit a bump and a lot of people go through that. There’s the game in Boston, a day game in Boston where I gave up a few runs and then kind of had a shaky couple outings after that. With everybody pitching the way they were, I ended up being the guy they made the move with at that point.
“I had a couple bad games. To that point I was doing pretty good and then my ERA jumped a whole point in a matter of a week. When that happens obviously you’ve got some eyes on you and you go down and you work on it. Everybody in the bullpen did such a great job that it’s hard... I can’t really (complain) and moan about that kind of stuff because everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Webb sought out pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti after the season to work on a few weaknesses.
“Being quick to the plate and a close, compact delivery and stuff like that,” Webb said. “I’ve worked really hard on that in the offseason and I’m excited to work with them again in spring training and keep that going. Hopefully make those adjustments and start off strong and keep it going this year.”
Once minicamp ends on Wednesday, Webb will return to Baltimore and gather some belongings before heading back down to Sarasota.
“I think it’s important that I come down here and be with the trainers and stuff like that,” he said. “Probably sometime next week I’m going to make arrangements to get down here through spring training.”
Outfielder Alex Hassan received a clean bill of health yesterday after undergoing hernia surgery and injuring his hamstring. He also made a solid first impression on members of the media, asking us about our professional backgrounds and seeming to be genuinely interested in our lives.
As Hassan left the clubhouse following the workout, he made sure to say goodbye and how it was nice to meet us. It may not seem like much to some fans, and it’s obviously more important that he can play and contribute to the Orioles, but I never take that sort of attitude for granted.
Hassan explained that his hernia wasn’t as serious as a sports hernia. I freely admitted that I didn’t know the difference.
“This was just really an easy procedure,” Hassan said. “Really, it was only a couple of weeks and I was feeling much better. At this point, I’m feeling 100 percent and ready to go.”
Hassan finally knows where he’s going after the Red Sox and Athletics put him on waivers in November. The Orioles failed in their first attempt to claim him, but they got him three days later.
“I was lucky it happened in the offseason, where you don’t actually have to physically move anywhere,” he said. “At the time, you’re not really sure what’s going to happen, but now looking back, being able to connect the dots looking back, it’s easier and I’m certainly happy with how it turned out. I’m happy to be here.”
Leaving the Red Sox organization couldn’t have been easy, since Hassan is a native of Quincy, Mass. They selected him in the 20th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, and he appeared in three games as a rookie last season.
“Honestly, I’m excited for a new opportunity and I’m excited to be here,” said Hassan, 26, a career .291/.396/.436 hitter in six minor league seasons. “I’ve heard great things about the organization, and the few people I’ve talked to, it’s been really positive. I’m excited about the opportunity.
“I’ve heard great things about Buck (Showalter). I certainly was a fan from the outside looking in.”
Showalter’s first impression of Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett: “Verrett kid’s going to be a pitcher.”
Showalter wasn’t stating the obvious. He meant that Verrett is more than just a thrower.
Hunter Harvey’s father, former major league closer Bryan Harvey, visited the Ed Smith Stadium complex yesterday. He could make a few brief appearances during spring training. Showalter likes having him around to offer tips on how to throw the splitter.
When does reliever Tommy Hunter intend to start throwing again?
“When they tell me to,” he replied.
“I don’t know what the deal is going to be this year. I think I started a little bit too early last year and we’ll tone it down. Japan kind of set me back a little bit. I think a couple more weeks, I’m going to start getting ready. It’s not going to take long. I took a month off, played then spent a month and a half, two months getting ready and easing back into it. Get a couple weeks and get back up on the mound ready to go, maybe a little longer.”
The bullpen has lost only one pitcher, Andrew Miller, who signed a four-year deal with the Yankees. But he was an awfully good one.
“Miller was a big pickup at the end,” Hunter said. “He was like a shot in the arm, another weapon, guy that throws 92-96 (mph), hammer slider, struck out 195,000 people in 60 innings. Somebody’s going to have to pick it up. But he did that mostly for somebody else.
“He came here and he played ball and he threw really well. He had a hell of a postseason and he had a hell of an end of the year. Somebody’s going to have to pick it up, split it up. We’ve got pretty capable arms at the back end of our bullpen. That’s my opinion. I don’t know.”
I wrote yesterday that the Orioles hadn’t scouted Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez. However, I’m told that they plan to do so, perhaps within the next week. They definitely have interest in him.
The Orioles know that he’s got a live arm and a fastball that touches the upper 90s.
Update: Forget Yoan. Baseball America reports that he’s signing with the Diamondbacks and will receive a $8.25 million bonus.