Webb soft tosses; rehab has 'plateaued'

Webb soft tosses; rehab has 'plateaued'

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Brandon Webb was relegated to soft toss on Sunday morning as the former National League Cy Young Award winner took a step back in his rehab from right shoulder surgery on Aug. 3. That decision puts his return in the Cactus League by mid-March in serious doubt.

Manager A.J. Hinch said on Sunday morning, hours before the D-backs played a split-squad game against the Rockies at Tucson Electric Park, that Webb is now on a "day-to-day basis," reiterating what Webb told reporters on Saturday.

"That's literally day-by-day," Hinch said. "He'll progress as tolerated. When he feels comfortable, he'll move on. It's important now to not put deadlines on him. It's really important to progress him when he's ready. We're not going to waste any time. When he's ready he's ready."

Webb has thrown eight bullpen sessions during the past month-plus and said Wednesday after the last session that he felt like he is "stagnant." He hasn't been on the mound since then.

Webb was working on a bike in the training room after his soft-toss session on Sunday and declined to come out and speak to the media.

"It felt fine," Webb said through a club spokesman.

On Saturday, Webb said that people should have some patience with his progress.

"Even two or three days in advance is too much to say," Webb said. "We're just day-to-day. That's all it is. Hopefully I'm ready by the third game of the season; that's definitely not out of the question, either. I'm still aiming for that. But if there is a little setback, anything that I can get is better than what I got last year."

The D-backs hoped that Webb would be able to face hitters and be ready to throw in a Cactus League game by March 15, now eight days away. General manager Josh Byrnes said the other day that the club wouldn't hesitate to begin the season on April 5 at home against the Padres with Webb on the disabled list. He tentatively had been slated for start the season's third game on April 7.

After pitching four innings in the opener last season, Webb missed the remainder of the year with shoulder problems.

Hinch said the next logical step for Webb might be another bullpen session before he faces live hitters.

"He's just hit a bump in the road where he's plateaued a little bit in his rehab," Hinch said. "He's not feeling bad, he's just not feeling strong. It's not that unexpected. It is seven months post-surgery. These things get a little testy from time to time. He's not in pain. He's not shut down. He's just a hit a little plateau that he needs to get past to move on to the next level."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.