Logan Webb needed something to clear his mind. The Giants' top pitching prospect played a lot of video games -- mostly Madden and NBA 2K -- and even took up a little golf in Arizona. Mostly, he turned to his friends and family whenever he could.
"Honestly, the best thing I could do is lean on my family. That was the main thing. Lean on my teammates and my friends back home," Webb said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. "That was big for me because a lot of the time I felt almost alone. Just kind of a lonely feeling.
"But there was a lot of great guys down there in Arizona."
The great guys in Arizona he's referring to are at the Giants' spring training facility to rehab an injury or play in either extended spring training or the Arizona Rookie League. Webb, however, was there for an entirely different reason.
After a phenomenal start to the season in Double-A Richmond, the 22-year-old was suspended 80 games on May 1 after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance. Webb denied ever knowingly taking a PED when the suspension was announced, and he's sticking to his side of the story.
"I’m gonna stand by it forever. That will never change," Webb said.
Shortly after the news was announced, Webb packed his bags and headed to the desert. He's been throwing the entire time and has worked extensively with the training staff to stay in shape. While in Arizona, Webb says he worked more on his changeup and really was able to refine his mechanics.
He also had someone right there with him he could turn to at any time of the day.
"Obviously my family, but a guy I could really lean on is [Giants pitching prospect] Mac Marshall. He’s been a huge help. We’ve been best friends since we’ve been drafted. Unfortunately, he was in Arizona too (rehabbing an injury). He’s been a huge help. Being able to talk to him and hang out with him a bunch, he’s been unbelievable in helping me get over it."
While he pitched in extended spring training games, Webb was back on the hill in a real game setting for the first time since being suspended when he joined the AZL Giants Orange in Rookie League on July 12. He allowed one earned run and struck out six batters over five innings.
Webb also pitched in front of a few of the other top Giants prospects, including 17-year-old Marco Luciano and the team's top pick this year, Hunter Bishop.
"[Luciano's] a stud," Webb said. "I got to play with a lot of those guys. I got to play with Bishop a little and he’s great. All of those guys are great. [Luciano's] gonna be a superstar."
Throughout his three-game "rehab assignment," Webb played with some of San Francisco's best young talent. He can feel the excitement of the whole organization as the farm system clearly is on the rise, saying "it's pretty impressive to see."
Webb pitched once in the AZL and twice with Low Class-A Augusta during his rehab assignment before he was re-instated Saturday and back on the bump Sunday with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. In his first game back in Double-A, Webb went 4 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs and recorded six strikeouts. Webb now is 2-3 with a 1.93 ERA and has 52 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings.
The Rocklin native was rising up the rankings at the start of the season. Now, he finds himself more motivated than ever. He's always had a chip on his shoulder, but never one this big.
"That’s kind of my mentality -- proving people wrong," Webb said. "Just going out there and proving who I am and who I was is the same guy. Finish what I started. Pitch my heart out pretty much."
Webb believes his suspension could serve as fuel to the fire. It's a label he'll always carry with him and he'll always have to find the light with a dark shadow cast over him.
At the same time, it's also something he doesn't wish upon anybody else.
"It’s the worst thing ever and I’m still not truly over it," Webb said. "In a way, I’m gonna use that -- it’s the only thing I can do. Use this as a chip on my shoulder like I have been my whole life. I'm just excited to prove myself."
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Throughout our talk, Webb used words like confusing and frustrating to describe the past few months. He still doesn't know why or how this happened to him. I asked Webb what word best chronicles his mindset while dealing with the suspension. After a few long pauses sprinkled in with some "umms," he found his answer.
The mound is the last place Webb feels lonely. His safe haven is back. Now it's up to him to use his motivation to finish what he started on his road to San Francisco.
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