As pitchers and catchers report Tuesday for spring training, Logan Webb will not have to familiarize himself with the area and figure out where he’ll be living, beginning the rigors of adjusting to a new home.
By now, Scottsdale is his old home.
Webb has made camp his base this offseason, spending much of it at the team’s spring training facility and said he’s already thrown eight or nine bullpen sessions, many of which under the helpful eyes of the Giants’ new pitching brain trust.
Brian Bannister is atop that branch of the complexer-than-usual Giants hierarchy, right above pitching coach Andrew Bailey and assistant pitching coach Ethan Katz, the new-age triad in charge of squeezing every bit of talent out of talents like Webb.
After a PED suspension, he rocketed up the minor league ranks, rising from the Arizona Rookie League to the majors in under five weeks. The top prospect came up with a solid fastball, changeup and what appeared to most to be a slider, which would tantalize righty hitters on the outside part of the plate, then dip and dive, down and away, far from bats.
To Webb, though, the pitch wasn’t a true slider. Regardless, whatever that breaking pitch was, it’s different now.
“I’ve been changing my curveball — it’s not really a curveball anymore. More a sweeper. More slurve than anything,” Webb told KNBR on Friday ahead of the Giants’ Saturday FanFest festivities. “I actually threw that — I know a lot of people said it was a slider last year — I always tried to throw it over the top. [New coaches] said, ‘Stop, work with your arm action to be more consistent.'”
Logan Webb, Unfair 83mph Slider…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/KgphfSJSla
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 18, 2019
He’s working on a delivery closer to three-quarters and searching for that repeatable angle. Matt Daniels, the former Driveline guru whose title is now coordinator of pitching sciences, has been watching and coaching Webb, too. The top guys are on the case.
“Couple new grips, couple new pitches that we’re working on,” said Webb, who was up and down in his eight major league starts. “I’m pretty excited about it.”
The vibe from the staff is they’re excited about him, too. Gabe Kapler mentioned the pitch grips that Webb has been focusing on before Bannister singled him out as one of the pitchers he’s been eager and happy to begin tapping into.
“I think he has a unique ability to spin the ball very well,” said Bannister, who was plucked from the Red Sox. “His body moves in a very interesting rotational way. I always pull from very talented pitchers — the way they move, the way they design their pitches — and try to give that as examples to the younger guys.
“So he’s already gotten about reshaping some pitches and adding some new grips, and I think he’s just one of many wonderful experiences to come to spring training, as far as how hard he’s worked and the changes and adaptations he’s been able to make.”
The fact Webb, of all pitchers, has been so hard at work this early is a touch ironic. He threw just 103 total innings last season and is expected to be on an innings limit.
Webb has heard that bit of news, too, though not from coaches. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants told him they wanted his innings curtailed, but he’s preparing to try to be in the rotation on Opening Day.
Webb’s early days with the Giants were ruined by various injuries, which included Tommy John surgery. Eighty games were missed last season due to the suspension. Another year, another way to potentially miss games.
Asked his goal for the season, Webb said: “I just want to be available. Just being ready every five days to go six, seven, however many innings, just to be consistent.”