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05/03/07 1:36 AM ET

Westbrook leaves with abdominal injury

Right-hander exits Wednesday after just 1 1/3 innings

CLEVELAND -- For Jake Westbrook, the good times looked to be approaching.

He had just picked up his first win. He was coming off a pair of quality starts. And before his Wednesday night start, Westbrook said he "felt great."

It was a fleeting feeling.

One day before starter Cliff Lee makes his return from an abdominal strain, a similar injury looks like it will push Westbrook to the disabled list. The right-hander left his start in the second inning after feeling tightness in his upper rib cage area.

"Anytime you come out of a game like that, you're thinking it's not too good," Westbrook said. "Hopefully I feel better tomorrow."

Manager Eric Wedge said "it sounds like a DL [situation]." But the Indians will at least wait until Thursday to see how Westbrook feels before making any decisions.

If Westbrook is shelved, the Indians should not find themselves in trouble. At least for now.

Fausto Carmona, optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, after the return of Lee, was the Tribe's finest starter over the past three weeks. The 23-year-old right-hander came just two outs shy of a shutout on Sunday and has a 2.05 ERA over his last three starts.

So he would be the safe bet to take Westbrook's spot in the rotation. And at this point, Carmona might not be a lesser option. Yet the injury's timing would be particularly disappointing for Westbrook.

The recently re-signed Westbrook looked to finally be on track in recent weeks. After being battered in his opening three starts, he had given up six runs over his last 13 1/3 innings.

And then came Wednesday, when something was clearly off. The 29-year-old right-hander was out of form from the night's onset, giving up three hits and walking a pair through 1 1/3 innings.

Westbrook said he first started experiencing tightness in his upper rib cage region midway through the first inning, but thought little of it.

Then in the second, "it kind of got a little worse every pitch," Westbrook said.

There was little outward sign of trouble, however, until Westbrook's 2-1 pitch to Sal Fasano with one out in the second. Fasano appeared to turn toward Victor Martinez and motion in Westbrook's direction. Martinez then went to the mound, but Westbrook maintained he was OK.

After his next pitch, though, an Indians trainer, manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis visited the right-hander. Westbrook's night was over.

"It's one of those things that you don't want to push," Wedge said.

This is not the first time Westbrook has injured his rib cage area. A broken rib forced him to the disabled list in September 2000. But he said this is the first time he's felt a strain in his side area.

"I'll hope for the best," Wedge said. "But you have to move on and you deal with what you're given."

David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.