Webb, who reported to spring training with the rest of the pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, has thrown four innings in the majors the past two seasons after undergoing shoulder surgery in August 2009. But the former Cy Young Award winner, who signed for $3 million and could make another $5 million in incentives, believes he's healthy and intends to prove it this spring.
"I think I'm going to be able to do what everybody else does and be a normal player," Webb said. "My throwing has been going great so I'm looking forward to it."
Webb, 31, said he's been throwing since Dec. 15 and that he felt good during three recent bullpen sessions off a mound. He pitched in the instructional league and then got some rest before resuming his throwing activities.
"Once you take off, you can tell in a couple of weeks that your arm is recovering," Webb said. "I didn't get that over the past two offseasons and this past one I could tell I was recovering. Even though I wasn't throwing in a game, I was throwing every day and I could tell two or three weeks into the offseason that my arm was feeling good and like a normal offseason. That was good."
Webb acknowledged that he'll have to fight the tendency to do too much too soon. That's something the Rangers' medical staff and front office have talked to him about. Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers' physician, did the surgery on Webb's shoulder so the club believes it has a good understanding of where Webb is and how to approach things.
"They are all about finishing the year, don't rush yourself to have a setback like we did last year," Webb said. "I pushed myself pretty hard and pretty quick last spring to get on the mound and to get into spring training in shape with the other guys and it didn't work out. I kept getting setbacks. We never really gave it enough time. I've talked to guys that have had the procedure and it's a year and we tried to do it on a six-month time scale."
But Webb feels good now. He hopes he can return to the level that made him the 2006 Cy Young Award winner in the NL and an All-Star in 2007 and 2008 before the shoulder debridement surgery (cleaning out loose debris and inflamed tissue). Webb won 22 games in 2008 before the injury forced him to miss most of the last two seasons.
Webb thinks he can regain that form.
"I never was a power pitcher and with the time I've had off and the feedback I got from the throwing I've done so far, it seems like it's going to be pretty good," Webb said. "I'm definitely hoping I can get back to that. That's the ultimate goal."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.