Webb, prospect Winn take on Angels' MVPs

February 28th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- didn’t have it easy in his spring debut on Monday afternoon.

With two former American League MVP winners -- Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani -- headlining the Angels’ lineup, Webb went into his outing with one modest goal in mind. 

“I just didn’t want to be on SportsCenter,” Webb said. 

Webb wasn’t at his best in the Giants’ 8-6 win over the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, but he avoided major damage by Los Angeles’ superstars, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out one over two innings.  

The 26-year-old right-hander gave up back-to-back singles up the middle to Trout and Ohtani in the bottom of the first, but he worked out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play from Gio Urshela.  

“First one, I guess I’ve got to face the two best players in baseball,” Webb said. “This was my first time pitching against them. … I do better when it matters, but it’s pretty cool when one of those guys is coming up to the plate.”  

Webb couldn’t keep the Angels off the board in the second, as he gave up a leadoff double to Jared Walsh, followed by a two-run shot to Luis Rengifo.

“I think [Webb] is just trying to find his delivery a little bit, which is totally normal for this time of spring,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Trying to get his shapes right. He’s been working on his slider. I think he mentioned that he didn’t have a great feel for his changeup because he’s been paying so much attention to his slider. The only thing I would say, as always, this is just totally normal things to work through in spring.”

Webb, who ranked second among qualified Major League pitchers with a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2022, noted that the new limits on defensive shifts will take some getting used to, as clubs will have to position at least two infielders completely on either side of second base as part of Major League Baseball’s rule changes for 2023.

Shortstop was shaded up the middle against the left-handed-hitting Ohtani in the first, but he likely would have been positioned more toward the right side of the infield prior to the implementation of the new rules.

"Yeah, I think I’m definitely going to have to deal with that a little more," Webb said. "Hopefully I don’t give up as many balls up the middle, but it’s just going to be a work in progress with that."

Still, Kapler said he believes Webb’s stuff will remain effective in a shiftless universe.

“I don’t think he has adjustments to make based on our defense,” Kapler said. “What he’s done the last couple of years will play with the shift, without the shift.”

Winn debuts 
Webb wasn’t the only Giants pitcher who had to contend with Trout and Ohtani on Monday. Right-hander  , who is ranked the club’s No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline, also drew the one-two punch while working a scoreless third in his Cactus League debut.

Winn, 25, issued a leadoff walk to David Fletcher, but he got Trout to ground into a forceout and struck out Ohtani looking on a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner. Winn, who formed a winning battery (pun intended) with catcher , capped his outing by coaxing a groundout from Urshela. 

“It was a heck of a first couple batters for the first big league Spring Training game,” Winn said. “I kind of blacked out a little bit because I hadn’t thrown with adrenaline in so long. It was fun.”

A 2018 fifth-round Draft pick out of Iowa Western Community College, Winn was added to the Giants’ 40-man roster over the offseason and could be in line to debut in 2023 after logging a 4.08 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) across three Minor League levels last year.

“What I thought was most interesting was he came in critical of himself around first-pitch strikes and strikes in general, which is the right attitude for a young developing pitcher to have,” Kapler said.

Worth noting 
Outfielder , who is in Giants camp as a non-roster invitee, experienced an injury scare in the fourth inning, when he took a pitch from Jaime Barría off his right hand/wrist area. A Giants trainer and Kapler came out to check on Piscotty, but the 32-year-old veteran remained in the game.