Webb targets late-April return

Webb targets late-April return

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Saying he is feeling the best he has felt all spring, D-backs right-hander Brandon Webb said Wednesday he is hoping for a late-April return.

"That's definitely not set in stone or anything. It's, I guess, a goal maybe," Webb said.

In retrospect, it's a goal that is a lot more attainable than his initial hope of being ready for Opening Day.

"I felt like I should be with everybody else," Webb said of the start of Spring Training. "Coming in, my thought process was I was going to be maybe a little behind, maybe a couple of days, then it was five days or 10 and then these guys were jumping into games, throwing bullpens and I just didn't feel like I was progressing anywhere close to where they were. ... It was frustrating because I wanted to be normal."

Webb was so discouraged after a bullpen session earlier this month that he called Keith Meister, the surgeon who operated on Webb's shoulder in August and asked to see him.

"He's like, 'Dude you look fine, I don't know what you're talking about,'" Webb said Meister told him.

The problem apparently was not that the shoulder wasn't recovering, but that the timetable was a little too aggressive. Meister suggested Webb spend a week or 10 days playing long-toss before trying to get back on the mound.

"He pretty much said that, 'You just weren't ready to get after it and get on the mound,'" Webb said. "He was like, 'I never had you pegged as an April [return] guy.' He might have told me that before, so he retold me I guess."

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After taking a few days off following that discouraging bullpen session last week, Webb felt a difference. He is now on what he calls a three-day plan, playing long-toss, short-toss and taking a day off.

"I let it go," Webb said of a session of catch last Sunday in Surprise, Ariz. "It felt like I was throwing hard. ... It felt good coming out of my hands. It felt like I was throwing 95 [mph]. People said that one day something clicks to where you're like, 'Alright it's good.' I don't know if that was the case, but it seems like it's close to something like that."

The D-backs have been careful not to place any expectations on Webb since the setback saying only that his program is day-to-day.

"It's finally good to go back out there and throw instead of just kind of dreading it," Webb said. "It's been good, real good."

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