CLEVELAND: Any hope the Indians had that Jake Westbrook would beat the healing curve disappeared Monday, when they received the report from Los Angeles orthopedist Lewis Yocum.
Monday, Westbrook visited the doctor who performed his right elbow reconstruction in June of 2008, because he was experiencing soreness in the elbow after his last rehabilitation start.
"The purpose of the visit was to learn the source of Jake's soreness and be sure that his reconstructed ligament was in good working condition,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Tuesday. ""Dr. Yocum did an MRI and took stress X-rays of the area. His conclusion is that the integrity of the ligament has not been compromised.''
That was the good news. Westbrook has not reinjured his elbow or sustained damage to any structure in the elbow. However, he won't be throwing a baseball for awhile.
"Dr. Yocum said the best course of action is to shut Jake down for six weeks, after which he will begin his throwing program again,'' Soloff said. "The doctor reminded us that it can take between 12 and 18 months before a pitcher is back on the mound.
"We were hoping that Jake would pitch this season, but it is increasingly clear that's not going to take place.''
Indians Manager Eric Wedge expressed regret that Westbrook won't get a jump on next year by making three of four starts this season.
"It's disappointing, but they said this could be a 12-18 month process, and we're going to be working toward the last part of that now,'' Wedge said. "As long as we get him back healthy for next year, that will be OK.''
If Westbrook is able to complete this latest schedule, he will begin throwing long toss about Sept. 22 and progress to throwing off flat ground to throwing off a mound, followed by pitching simulated games. By then, it will be too late for him to go on a rehab asignment, because there will be no more minor-league games to play.
If Westbrook is unable to throw a pitch under game conditions until next spring, would he be ready to break camp as a member of the rotation?
"We're not quite sure what the game plan is right now,'' Wedge said. ""We'll have to get together with Jake to determine the best way for him to be part of this club next year.''
One of the things Wedge will discuss with Westbrook is the possibility of playing winter ball.
What caused the recent pain?
"The symptoms are likely the result of scar tissue and tendinitis of the flexor tendon,'' Soloff said, indicating that rest will ease the problem. Eventually, Westbrook will have to break through the scar tissue by throwing.
MEDICAL UPDATES -- Scott Lewis (elbow strain) threw four innings (50 pitches) at the Indians' complex in Goodyear, Ariz. on Monday and is on track to make his next start on Saturday.
Adam Miller emerged from surgery to repair his right middle finger in good shape and is scheduled to begin hand therapy this week. He is not expected to throw a pitch until the spring of 2010.
Anthony Reyes (Tommy John surgery) is back in Cleveland rehabbing his elbow every day and has regained full motion in his right arm.
MINOR MOVES -- The Indians outrighted Josh Barfield to Columbus, taking him off the 40-man roster.
Right-hander Jose Veras, who was designated for assignment last Wednesday, hass cleared waivers and been assigned to Columbus. However, Veras can elect to become a free agent instead, and has yet to inform the club of his decision. On the day he was designated, he told the media he would go to Triple-A if asked.
STRAGGLER -- The Tribe's 32nd round pick in the draft, Univerisity of Virginia left-hander Matt Packer, signed his contract Tuesday.
Packer led the NCAA in earned-run average (1.14) as a sophomore last year and posted a3-5 record and 4.13 ERA this year.
The Indians have signed 27 of their 50 picks but not their No. 1 selection, right-hander Alex White. The deadline for signing draftees is Monday.
FARM FACTS -- Karexon Sanchez homered, doubled and drove in three runs, as Lake County beat Augusta 8-2.