07/01/09 1:18 PM ET
Webb will not have shoulder surgery
D-backs ace will rest, exercise, hope for September return
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
On Tuesday, Webb completed a three-city trip to see three specialists and he said all told him the same thing: surgery is not needed.
Instead, Webb will hold off on throwing for the next four to six weeks while going through an exercise regimen designed to stabilize his shoulder and strengthen the rotator cuff area.
Webb visited Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday; Dr. David Altchek in New York on Monday, and James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday.
"They all said pretty much the same thing, that they would not recommend surgery right now," Webb said. "They told me this is something that should get better."
"The process of seeking multiple opinions has been beneficial," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We are planning on a conservative course without surgery. We are optimistic that Webby can return to pitching based on this decision."
All three of the doctors examined multiple MRIs taken of Webb's shoulder and put him through tests to gauge its strength.
"Meister said he has seen pitchers with MRIs that look 10 times worse than mine and they are pitching without problems," Webb said.
Webb said he first began to feel some stiffness in the shoulder during Spring Training and the doctors believe that it was a teres major strain. The teres major is a muscle located outside the shoulder joint. As a result of that injury, they told him, his shoulder became weak and what he is experiencing now is an internal impingement in the shoulder.
In an effort to rehab the shoulder, Webb will remain in Birmingham this week to work with a therapist affiliated with Andrews and someone respected by D-backs head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw. The goal is to give Webb a routine that will not only help him recover, but also keep him healthy in the future.
"He put me through a workout yesterday," Webb said. "I was beat. It's good though, he knows what he's doing and [Crenshaw] knows him and trusts him."
Webb had been scheduled to throw a bullpen session on June 19, but experienced some discomfort while playing catch on June 18 in Kansas City and left the team to return home.
"Yeah, I was frustrated," Webb said. "Sometimes it felt good, sometimes not good, I was just tired of not being able to get over the hump. It wears on you. I was like something has to be wrong."
Shoulder surgery, though, is the last thing a pitcher wants to go through, so Webb, with the blessing of the D-backs, sought out additional opinions.
"I was not going to have surgery just to have surgery because I felt like something had to be wrong in there," Webb said. "It's unfortunate that some people wrote that it looked like I needed to have surgery or that there was a problem with my labrum, because the doctors I saw didn't say that."
While he was discouraged a couple of weeks ago following his setback, Webb sounded upbeat Wednesday.
"Yeah, I feel a lot better," he said. "I've had some of the best doctors in the world for this stuff look at me and they all say pretty much the same thing. Hopefully I can get this shoulder stronger, then start throwing a little and be back to make a few starts in September. The doctors said that's a realistic goal."
Webb's contract expires at the end of the season, but the D-backs hold an option for 2010 at $8.5 million or they can buy out the option year for $2 million.
"Honestly, that's the last thing on my mind right now," Webb said. "I just want to pitch. It's been killing me to not be out there. I'm tired of talking about my contract, or talking about my arm, I'm just dying to get back out there again and pitch."
The 30-year-old right-hander has been a mainstay in the Arizona rotation since 2003, when he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. In addition to winning the Cy Young in 2006, he finished second in both 2007 and 2008.
Webb, 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA last season, has been a workhorse for the D-backs. After being called up in April 2003, he made 28 starts and had never failed to make at least 33 starts in any season since.
Webb and the D-backs agreed on a three-year contract extension early last season, but the D-backs decided to withdraw their offer amid concerns raised about his shoulder when the team tried to get insurance for the contract.
"The first doctor I saw, Meister, looked at the MRIs and the first thing he said was, 'They didn't do a contract because of this?'" Webb said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.