06/23/07 7:34 PM ET
Notes: Westbrook returns Sunday
Righty sidelined since early May with left abdominal strain
By Michael Phillips / MLB.com
The pitcher landed on the disabled list after straining his left abdominal muscle on May 2. Since then, he's made four rehab starts, including an 82-pitch outing for Triple-A Buffalo last Monday.
"He's built up now to where we can take him to the century mark, or right around there, but we're going to see how he is," manager Eric Wedge said. "Whenever it's somebody's first start back, you're never quite sure what to expect. You just pay attention to it and see how the game moves along."
Westbrook's impending start also means that a player will have to be optioned from the 25-man roster to make room. Wedge said that decision wouldn't be made until late Saturday, or before Sunday's game, and that it would likely be a player from the bullpen.
Here's the question: Now that Baltimore's Miguel Tejada's consecutive games played streak is over, which Cleveland player moves into second on the list?
Building toward consistency: In their last six games, the Indians have scored one, 10, six, 10, five and two runs. It's not exactly a model of consistency, but Wedge said that it's progress, as the team builds toward better offensive production.
"I think before you can be consistent day in and day out, you have to work to the point where you have a good game and a bad game, or a good inning and a bad inning," he said. "I think that's a step in the right direction."
Wedge added that he did not believe the streaking offense is reminiscent of last year's team.
A large defensive challenge: RFK Stadium is a pitchers' park, with huge outfield dimensions that can pose a problem for fielders.
Wedge said that he wouldn't make any team-wide adjustments, but rather leave it up to each player.
"It's more about each individual," he said. "They'll individually watch where they need to position themselves."
Wedge also said that the best information on how to play the field would come from watching the Nationals players.
Visiting the troops: Several players and coaches visited injured soldiers Friday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Travis Hafner was part of the group that went to Walter Reed, and said that the team was well-received.
"For the most part, people were excited and upbeat to see us," he said. "If there's anything we can do to help, we're willing to do it."
"It's not too hard to find a Tribe fan," he said. "I was just glad to have the opportunity to brighten somebody's day."
On the farm: Buffalo manager Torey Lovullo told The Buffalo News that he has not been contacted about the managing job in Baltimore. Lovullo's name was tossed out by ESPN's Peter Gammons as somebody who might be a candidate for the job. Joe Girardi turned down an offer from the Orioles on Thursday.
Tribe tidbits: Wedge isn't worrying about Hafner's recent hitting woes. The manager said that the swing is the most important thing, and that Hafner had two strong swings on Friday, even though they both ended in outs. ... With the end of his hitting streak comes the end of something else for Casey Blake -- his facial hair. The third baseman shaved his beard before the series with Washington. ... The Indians are 38-11 when scoring four or more runs.
On this date: In 1950, Luke Easter hit the longest home run in the history of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, which flew a distance of 477 feet and traveled over the auxiliary scoreboard in right field. He later became the first player to hit one over the center-field scoreboard in Buffalo's Offerman Stadium.
And the answer is: Outfielder Grady Sizemore has now played in 268 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in baseball.
On deck: The final Interleague game of the season will also be the first for Westbrook (1-2, 7.90 ERA). He'll face Jason Simontacchi (4-5, 6.31 ERA) in a 1:35 p.m. ET game at RFK Stadium on Sunday.
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.