Brandon Webb says that Dan Haren deserves to be the Arizona Diamondbacks' opening day starter.
Webb has been the team's No. 1 starter each of the past four seasons, but he will enter spring training bouncing back from a shoulder injury.
Manager A.J. Hinch on Friday selected Haren the opening day starter to reward him for last season (14-10 with a 3.14 ERA) and to give Webb extra time to prepare. Webb underwent shoulder surgery in early August after he pitched one game in 2009.
That decision is OK with Webb, the 2006 Cy Young Award winner and three-time All-Star.
"I definitely think Danny deserves to get the ball on opening day," Webb said Saturday afternoon after the Diamondbacks completed their first pitchers and catchers workout. "He had a great year last year. If I start Game 3, I'm happy starting anywhere. That means I'm out there playing."
Webb said he felt a little stiffness and normal soreness after he tossed the ball and threw from 90 feet Saturday. He also threw a bullpen Friday and said he would normally take the day after a bullpen off.
He will throw another bullpen Monday. The team will take Webb's schedule day by day during spring training and adjust it based on how he feels, Hinch said.
Webb said he hopes to be ready for the start of the Cactus League schedule — the Diamondbacks' first game is March 4.
"I feel like I'm getting better and stronger every week, and it's going to be a gradual process," Webb said.
Without Webb in 2009, the Diamondbacks faltered to 70-92, last in the NL West. In his second season with Arizona, Haren carried the team, finishing fifth in Cy Young Award voting, striking out a career-high 223 and walking 38 in a career-high 229 1/3 innings.
Haren, who was the Oakland A's opening day starter in 2007, said he appreciates the chance to start the first game, but he is also glad to have Webb back.
"We need Webby to be there," Haren said. "The team will probably go as far as he takes us. Him being part of the staff, it'll be a lot easier than last year, having to shoulder the load."
Both Webb and Haren said they expect the Diamondbacks to be improved in 2010 with such additions as right-hander Edwin Jackson, who is expected to start the second game, first baseman Adam LaRoche and relievers Bob Howry and Aaron Heilman and the healthy return of Conor Jackson, Chad Qualls and Chris Snyder.
"I would be very disappointed. I'd be shocked if we aren't competing for the division," Haren said.
"I think the ownership and front office showed confidence in us wanting to win right now. We're set up to win right now, and I don't see why we wouldn't."
Source: AP News