It is now commonplace to see pitchers sustain serious arm injuries, undergo surgery, and come back better than ever in a relatively short amount of time. With modern technology and highly skilled doctors, an arm injury does not mean the end of the road for a modern day pitcher. However, despite numerous success stories of pitchers making successful comebacks, not all of these stories have a happy ending.
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Brandon Webb, the 2006 National League Cy Young award winner, hasn’t pitched in a big league game since Opening Day in 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After four innings, he was taken out of the game and has not faced a major league hitter since. He was diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder and underwent surgery in August 2009. Arizona picked up his option for 2010 in the hopes that he would recover and return to action, but that never happened.
Following the 2010 season, Webb became a free agent. Once regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball who should have been capitalizing on free agency, he was damaged goods looking for a chance to prove he could still pitch. The Texas Rangers signed Webb to a one-contract and he returned to action in the minor leagues. However, in the summer of 2011, Webb had to undergo another operation on his right shoulder, thus shutting him down again.
Now Webb is trying to come back again as he is throwing off flat ground looking for a team to take a chance on him. At 32 years old, he is still young enough where he can be productive over a period of time. But he first must convince a team that he is healthy enough to do so. The latest reports on Webb are that he is not experiencing any pain during his recent throwing sessions and he plans on throwing for scouts looking for an invitation to spring training.
Keep an eye on what transpires with Webb over the next few weeks. If a team does invite him to camp and he can stay healthy, he may be a viable sleeper option in the late rounds of your fantasy baseball league draft. Or, you could potentially stash him in a minor league spot and wait for him to get the call-up. Either way, do not draft him with high expectations of production. He is clearly a health risk and will never be the same pitcher he was before 2009.
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