Jake Westbrook's seemingly minor setback probably will delay his return to the mound by at least a month.
After being shut down after his last rehab start because of soreness in his surgically reconstructed right elbow, Westbrook was scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday, but that will not happen.
"´Dr. (Lewis) Yocum felt that as well as Jake has done so far, we should take a conservative approach,'' head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Saturday. ""He advocated no throwing for 14 days, and we're about five days into that now. if there is no pain after the two weeks, Jake will begin a return-to-throw program starting with (long toss from) 75 feet, progressing to the mound.''
Yocum performed Tommy John surgery on Westbrook in June of 2008 in Southern California.
"After UCL reconstructive surgery, it takes 12-18 months before guys pitch again,'' Soloff said. "Now, we're looking at the end of July or the beginning of August for Jake.''
Before experiencing pain in the elbow as week ago, the Indians were hoping that Westbrook could return to the rotation by the end of this month or early July.
Despite the setback, a recent examination by doctors in Cleveland, that included an MRI, showed there is no structural damage to Westbrook's elbow.
DEROSA SCRATCHED -- Mark DeRosa was removed from the lineup shortly before game time because of a sore left quad, sustained Friday, when he ran into a metal box containing the bullpen telephone that is attached to the wall adjacent to the left field foul line.
"This is one place I really wanted to be in there,'' said DeRosa, who played for the Cubs in 2007 and 2008 before being traded to Cleveland last winter.
STATUS CHANGE? -- When Aaron Laffey (right oblique strain) was ready to come off the disabled list, manager Eric Wedge was hoping to install him in the rotation.
But with the current disarray in the bullpen, Laffey might have to make his living as a reliever, at least for awhile.
"We'll do what we have to do,'' Wedge said. ""If we feel more of a need in the bullpen, that's something we'll have to consider. We have to keep every option open.''
If Laffey goes to the bullpen, it might alter his rehab program. He has been working his way back as a starter, that is, the idea was to build up his arm to throw 85-90 pitches by making four to five starts in the minors.
That could change if the Tribe decides soon to use Laffey as a reliever. He is scheduled to make his next start in Akron on Tuesday.
NO PAIN, GAIN -- Grady Sizemore (inflammation of the lining of the elbow) took batting practice and played catch from 120 feet.
"Grady responded favorably to the increase in baseball activity, as has Asdrubal (Cabrera),'' Soloff said. ""Hopefully, Asdrubal (strained AC joint) will be ready to play in a game in five to seven days. The question is whether we send him out (on a rehab asignment) or not.''
Rafael Betancourt (strained groin) played long toss from 105 feet and will begin throwing bullpens next week if he suffers no setbacks.
"He might end up on the shorter end of that 4-6 period,'' said Soloff, referring to the amount of time the reliever was expected to miss.
MANAGER'S LAMENT -- Wedge can't manage his way out of the Tribe's current pitching dilemma without the help of the bullpen.
"It's tough when you get into the eighth inning and it takes four pitchers, or whatever, to get three outs,'' he said. ""It's ridiculous. It doesn't do anything to name names. Everybody knows who's down there (the bullpen). This is a great opportunity for someone to step up. But I'm tired of talking about it. I'd like to see somebody do it.''
FARM FACTS -- Wyatt Toregas hit his sixth homer of the year, Tony Graffanino had three hits and Michael Aubrey singled twice, but Columbus lost to Syracuse 6-5. *elip Lonnie Chisenall hit his 13th home run of the season and drove in two runs, but Kinston lost 5-3 to Lynchburg. *elip John Allman doubled twice, singled and drove in three runs, as Mahoning Valley opened its season with a 6-5 win over Jamestown. Kaimi Mead (1-0, 3.60 ERA) pitched five innings and allowed two runs on one hit and one walk.
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