Notes: Webb expects better effort

Notes: Webb expects better effort

WASHINGTON -- Brandon Webb threw a side session on Thursday and is confident that his start on Saturday will be better than his Opening Day effort during which he struggled with his command.

Webb walked three and allowed five runs in five innings Monday in Denver against the Rockies as he battled to keep his mechanics consistent. Afterward, he pinned the trouble on the extra excitement that came with the season's first game.

"I had my regular mechanics, so it went real well," Webb said of his side session. "I'm ready."

Pitching coach Bryan Price echoed that assessment.

"The side session was perfect," Price said. "His pregame before [the game in Denver], he was outstanding. It's just early energy. We're seeing that around the league a lot when guys are making their first starts. There've been some uncommon results from some of the premier guys in baseball. It certainly didn't concern me. I certainly expect it to be a lot better when he goes out Saturday."

Stepping out: Outfielder Carlos Quentin (labrum tear) took early batting practice on the field Friday and reported no pain in his left shoulder. He was watched closely from behind the cage by manager Bob Melvin and head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw.

"It felt good," Quentin said. "[On Saturday], I'll hit with these guys, and I'll feel more like a part of the team. I'll do some days of that and see what they want to do with me after that."

Quentin fully extended his left arm hitting offspeed pitches to right field and didn't have any discomfort.

"I'm pretty confident that after the rehab process I'll be fine," he said. "I've been building up strength so that it will be able to withstand the swings."

Randy on track: Randy Johnson (back) threw a side session at Chase Field on Friday with farm director, and former Major Leaguer, A.J. Hinch catching him.

Johnson also did some pitcher fielding practice drills and practiced his bunting. He's scheduled to throw between 75-80 pitches on Sunday for Class A Visalia against Modesto. His next step would be a 90-plus pitch outing for Triple-A Tucson next Friday.

The exact date for Johnson's return to the big leagues has not been decided on yet. He could start as soon as April 18, but that would be Webb's regular turn, so the club may bump Johnson back a day.

"We've put a lot of thought into it," Melvin said. "We're not sure yet. We still want to wait for each and every outing. Where we slot him in, we've looked at several different places, but until we get through this, I really don't want to say what day."

Scratched: Shortstop Stephen Drew was scratched from the starting lineup on Friday. It was the second straight game that Drew was not in the lineup, but each was for a different reason.

On Thursday, he was hampered by a sore quadriceps muscle, while Friday it was an upset stomach. Drew looked under the weather sitting in the clubhouse before batting practice.

"You don't want to start him out there and have him have to come out of the game," Melvin said.

Keeping fresh: Miguel Montero got the start behind the plate with Micah Owings on the mound, but Melvin said it wasn't because Montero had caught Owings last year in Triple-A.

"Didn't necessarily play into it," Melvin said. "I wanted to get Miggy in there again. I don't want him sitting around too long. He's another one of those guys that's used to playing every day and if you make him sit too long, then they kind of lose their edge at the plate."

Chris Snyder had two passed balls Thursday night, something Melvin blamed on some crossed signals.

Up next: The D-backs and Nationals continue their series Saturday at 4:05 p.m. MT, with Webb facing former D-back John Patterson.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.