Webb may be cleared to pitch by Tuesday
Righty will not make return in front of home crowd
PHOENIX -- Brandon Webb had hoped to pitch before his home fans at Chase Field during the D-backs' current and final homestand.
That will not happen.
The rehabbing right-hander threw a 32-pitch, issue-free simulated game against teammates on Wednesday afternoon, but, at the behest of interim manager Kirk Gibson and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., will complete one more side session this weekend. The soonest he would pitch in a Major League game would be Tuesday in San Francisco.
"I'm ready to go," Webb said. "Gibby and Stott want me to do it one more time. ... I said 'Alright, one more time Saturday, and then I'm going into the game.' If that flies, hopefully that's it."
Still, Webb came away from Wednesday's workout feeling confident about his ability to loosen up his arm, repeat his mound mechanics and not tire.
"My best bullpen was in Cincinnati [last week]," Webb said. "This, I think, was better than that."
Webb, who underwent shoulder surgery last summer and hasn't appeared in an MLB game since starting on Opening Day 2009, would likely be limited to one inning of relief in his anticipated return.
"Being out of the 'pen, there's no guaranteed innings," Webb said, citing Arizona starters advancing deep into games lately. "Hopefully, I think, Gibby will squeeze me in there once; I'd like to do twice.
"I kind of wish there was another month [in the season], then I'd get a lot more out of it."
Webb, a pending free agent, was curt as to his plans for 2011. What occurs in the offseason, he intimated, will depend on how much he'll be able to accomplish during the final two weeks of 2010.
Johnson reflects on addition of Towers
PHOENIX -- Former Braves and current D-backs second baseman Kelly Johnson knows how the reach of a club's general manager extends into the dugout and onto the field. Johnson spent the first four seasons of his career in Atlanta, where then-G.M. John Schuerholz and his clubhouse consigliore, Bobby Cox, worked well in tandem for almost two decades.
"Continuity is huge, having a tried and true and tested method, somebody who's been there and has the relationships," Johnson said.
With his first season in Arizona yet to be completed, meanwhile, Johnson has now had three GM's and two managers. That explains why, with Wednesday's official announcement that Kevin Towers, a Padres stalwart for 14 seasons, would be taking over for Jerry Dipoto in the GM's chair, Johnson had nothing but positive things to say.
"As soon as Schuerholz stepped down in Atlanta," Johnson said of the executive's 17-year tenure as GM before becoming club president in 2008, "Towers was next, there [in San Diego] just as long. He's put teams in the playoffs for a long time, over and over again.
"It's hard to say what's going to happen, but we're anxious to see what he does."
Gutierrez keeping four-seamer in back pocket
PHOENIX - That 95-96 mph fastball opposing batters see coming out of the hand of the D-backs' de facto closer Juan Gutierrez is not as fast as it could be.
But that's been by design all along.
"He told me to leave my four-seamer in my back pocket," Gutierrez said of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.'s directive, "and just bring the two-seamer; that's the only pitch you've got to throw in there."
Well, that and his mid-80 mph slider -- the one he struck out hot-hitting Troy Tulowitzki to begin his 1-2-3 ninth on Tuesday night.
Gutierrez and interim manager Kirk Gibson credit the slightly-slower heater, however, with the right-hander's recent success. Gutierrez has converted 10 straight save opportunites since Gibson took the reins in early July.
"When you guys see [the two-seamer] on TV," said Gibson, juxtaposing the two offerings, "there's more movement to it."
How much can change in two seasons? On this date, Sept. 22, 2008, Brandon Webb collected his 22nd win. He went 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA that year. ... Right fielder Justin Upton (left shoulder irritation) was absent from the D-backs starting lineup for the seventh straight game on Wednesday. ... Rookie Brandon Allen was slated to bat seventh and play left field. Allen, who hadn't played in each of the D-backs' previous two games, was set to face Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez. "I told him, 'Ready play tonight? You've got an easy assignment. Who's pitching?'" interim manager Kirk Gibson recalled. "It's good for him. He'll battle." Allen actually entered play 2-for-4 with two walks all-time against Jimenez. ... Lefty Mike Hampton, pitching in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 8-4 win, struck out Dexter Fowler on three pitches but allowed a Carlos Gonzalez single. Hampton had begun his Arizona career with 2 1/3 perfect innings over five games.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.