The fact that it took Webb 17 months to throw competitively after his first surgery, followed by the fact that he then had to shut it down again for a second procedure, leads to a pessimistic analysis of his chances.
However, there are a couple of rays of light.
First, consider this medical report from the World of Orthopedics website, which provides some interesting detail on his 2009 surgery:
2009 Webb did not injure his Rotator Cuff, but rather his teres major muscle. This muscle is found in the rear part of the shoulder area, next to where the shoulder blade is located. He only strained his teres major so it did not require major reconstructive surgery. Surgeons had to go in and clean up the area around the muscle to release the tightening sensation he was feeling from the strain. Even though his surgery wasn’t as major as it could have been, it will still require months of physical rehabilitation.
But Webb's rehab took a lot longer than anyone expected. Why?
As BJ Maack wrote on HardBallReport, "Sometimes it just does....sometimes the surgery needs longer to settle in.....sometimes a change in the rehab program is needed. Point being, it just is this way for Webb."
Then, last July, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors reported "Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb will undergo surgery on his right shoulder with the intent to pitch again in 2012, according to his agent Jonathan Maurer. This will not be a full surgery of the rotator cuff but it will prevent him from throwing for four months."
I added the italics to emphasize the key words: "not a full surgery."
Nevertheless, as Maack points out, there is still a lot of work ahead of him.
The athlete then needs to regain his full range of motion, as well as work to get the muscles strong again. All of this without ever throwing a ball for several months. THEN comes throwing the ball, getting used to the throwing motion again.....THEN comes long toss.....THEN comes mound work.
Ultimately, former major league pitcher Terry Clark (who underwent four rotator cuff procedures) says, it will come down to Webb trusting his shoulder and completely cutting loose.
"The first time I was told to throw the ball as hard as I could, I was scared to death," Clark told the Austin Statesman. "You've got to trust it."
At the start of 2011, Webb's surgeon, Dr. Keith Meister, told MLB Trade Rumors that he "fully expects him to prepare at a normal pace to be ready when camp opens in February, for whomever signs him."
Let's see what he says this time.