Webb met with specialist in December
D-backs ace says Dr. Andrews said his shoulder is fine
PHOENIX -- Brandon Webb acknowledged on Thursday that a contract extension offer was pulled off the table last summer by the Diamondbacks because of concerns over his right shoulder, but Webb maintains his shoulder is fine and said he has the backing of a well-known specialist to prove it.
For the first time, Webb revealed in an interview with MLB.com that he saw noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and that Andrews told him as long as he continues his strengthening program he was at no greater risk than any other pitcher of developing a shoulder problem.
The examination took place in December after baseball's Winter Meetings. Webb's agents talked with D-backs officials at the meetings, and when it became clear that extension talks were not going to restart, Webb asked to visit Andrews.
"I just wanted to put my own mind at ease," Webb said. "The doctors that we had talked to said my shoulder was fine, but I just wanted to make sure, so I went and saw Dr. Andrews. He told me that my shoulder looked like a typical pitcher's shoulder and that I should not be worried as long as I kept up my workouts."
Aside from being one of the more respected specialists in his field, visiting Andrews was important for Webb because he had seen him before.
In another first time revelation, Webb said there had been some concern about his shoulder in high school and he visited Andrews for a third opinion at that time.
"He said, at the time, that it was just tendinitis and some bursitis," Webb said. "He's seen my shoulder before, so he would know if it's changed over the years. That's why I have so much confidence in what he says."
Webb and the D-backs had agreed on the financial parameters of a three-year extension last summer that would have been worth $54 million. Webb's current deal runs through this season and pays him $6.5 million, with a club option for 2010 at $8.5 million. Some of the extension money would have been applied to this year and next year's salary to help the team spread out its commitment.
Since that time, the two sides have not had any negotiations, and neither party disclosed the reason for the offer being pulled off the table.
Foxsports.com on Wednesday reported the deal was pulled because of insurance companies' concerns about his arm. The report cited Major League sources as saying the insurance companies' concerns raised a "red flag" to the organization.
"I am not going to comment on the specifics of our negotiations with Webby," Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "There is a certain confidentiality with players' medical records that should be respected, and as an organization, we are very disappointed that someone would talk about this in the media."
It is not uncommon for doctors to differ in their opinions of things such as the probability of a shoulder or elbow being hurt in the future, and one official said the issue was simply "not black and white."
The team said it would not comment on whether there would be future negotiations.
The report and Webb complaining of stiffness in his shoulder during his Opening Day start have raised concerns.
Webb, who has not spoken with the media since Tuesday, told MLB.com on Thursday that he has no reason to believe that the stiffness he is feeling now is anything other than muscular.
"It popped up at the end of Spring Training," Webb said. "It's more of a muscle thing, and not a joint thing. They tested the strength of my shoulder this week, and it tested out stronger than it's ever been. I really don't feel like this is a big deal."
Webb said he felt the stiffness in the fourth inning during Monday's opener, and while he did not have problems playing catch the following day, he had some stiffness on Wednesday morning. When he informed the team of that, it was decided that he would miss his start on Saturday against the Dodgers.
"I think there's a very good chance he jumps back in the rotation and pitches like Brandon Webb," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said.
For Webb, he still hopes his long-term future is in Arizona.
"Of course I do," he said. "I've said it before that I love playing here. The fans have been great. I love my teammates. If it were up to me, I'd never go anyplace else."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.