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Brandon Webb Takes a Baby Step Toward Return

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There's a pretty good chance that Brandon Webb turns out to be nothing more than a blip on the horizon that never comes close enough for you to see with your own eyes.

    That's the chance you take with pitchers coming back from serious injuries. No matter how much you coddle and cajole them, there's a chance they simply aren't going to come around in any meaningful way for your baseball team.

    For now, though, we can still harbor hope that the Rangers will have a former Cy Young winner riding into town at some point this season. Those hopes got a shot in the arm on Monday when Webb cruised through two innings of work in an extended spring training game. He needed only 16 pitches to get through those innings even though his velocity still isn't where it needs to be.

    That will either come around or it won't, but Webb's command was better and he's not a pitcher who relies on throwing heat to be successful. He's going to get groundballs by the bushel if he's right and the plan now is for him to throw every five days in Arizona until he's ready for a minor league assignment.

    In other words, don't expect him to be in the mix for the Rangers anytime soon. Caution is certainly the best course of action, but that doesn't mean the team doesn't have a growing need for progress from Webb.

    We can't know what exactly to make of Colby Lewis's struggles at this point. It is alarming to see a drop in velocity, something that can often be the sign of an injury, but we don't have any sure reason to believe he's not physically right. If there are a couple more starts like his recent outings, though, it won't much matter. He'll need to be replaced and the domino effect will have serious repercussions.

    Tommy Hunter would be the obvious choice to replace him once he's ready to come off the disabled list, but Hunter's something less than a sure thing over the long haul. The same could be said of Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, although they are less of a concern than the need to limit Alexi Ogando's innings at some point this season.

    Throw in the chaotic state of the bullpen and you've got a lot of questions about the pitching staff. Webb would make a mighty fine answer to some of them.