Webb basking in All-Star experience
D-Backs ace enjoying first exposure to Midsummer Classic
PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Webb had known for a week that he was an All-Star, but it didn't really hit him until Sunday night when he arrived at the Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh where the players are staying."It was crazy," said Webb. "Last night, I was like, 'Wow, this is the epitome of big league right here.' There were limos everywhere, big leaguers in the lobby, so you definitely know where you're at." Like the other All-Stars, Webb spent more than an hour in a hotel ballroom on Monday answering questions from the media, while counting the minutes until he could head over to PNC Park and mingle with his teammates. "I'm ready to go to the clubhouse and just meet everybody and be around some of the best players in the game right now," he said. Webb received his first All-Star selection as the leading vote-getter amongst pitchers on the ballots filled out by his fellow National Leaguers, who were no doubt impressed with his 8-0 start and devastating sinker. With a 9-3 record, Webb was a candidate to start the game, but National League manager Phil Garner decided to go with the Dodgers' Brad Penny instead. "[Penny's] going to have the most rest, and I'm sure [Garner] is looking for the guy that's going to give him the most innings, which is definitely understandable," Webb said. Webb started for the D-Backs on Saturday, and Arizona manager Bob Melvin requested that Webb only throw one inning in Tuesday's game. Melvin had considered bumping Webb's turn up to Friday if Garner had wanted to start him, but Garner was undecided at that point, so the D-Backs started Webb on Saturday in his regular spot. Webb hasn't pitched in relief since his Major League debut in Montreal, back in 2003, and he'll have to guard against overthrowing his sinker. If it's thrown too hard, it can lose some of its sink. He smiled and shook his head when asked about facing the potent American League lineup. "It's an amazing lineup," he said. "Being my first one, I don't know how they do it, but I don't do a lot of scouting usually anyway with the teams in our division. I'll probably just go out there and let [NL catcher Paul Lo Duca] call his own game, and if it's something I don't want, I'll shake him." The D-Backs finished the first half with three straight wins, but are still in last place, five games in back of San Diego. It was a tough month of June, during which they lost 20 of 23 games at one point to go from the top to the bottom of the NL West.
"As bad as we played in June, to only be five games out at the break definitely shows that we're not out of it," Webb said. "It figures to be wide open all the way through the end of September. Early in the year, all the starting pitchers were going deep into the games for us, the hitters were getting big hits and things like that and I think we were getting back to that right after June ended and when July started. That short amount of time that we played in July, it seemed like things turned."Before leaving for the All-Star Game, Webb received some advice from teammate Luis Gonzalez, who has been to his share of Midsummer Classics. The first thing he told me and he kept telling me this was, 'Get to the field early Monday and start signing, because there's a lot of signing to do.' So that's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to soak this whole thing in."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.