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06/03/08 8:50 PM ET
Indians shuffle rotation; Lewis joins 'pen
Moves come on heels of Westbrook's return trip to DL
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Indians aren't yet sure how long to expect to be without the services of right-hander Jake Westbrook. Westbrook, placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation on Tuesday, flew back to Cleveland in the morning to receive an MRI exam. He will also visit and get an opinion from elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum, the medical director for the Angels. "It's always good to get a couple opinions when you're going through something like this," manager Eric Wedge said. With starter Jeremy Sowers having just worked seven innings on Sunday for Triple-A Buffalo, the Indians had few options when it came to replacing Westbrook for Tuesday's start against the Rangers. In the end, the Tribe opted to use a trail of relievers, beginning with Tom Mastny, who had been called up from Buffalo on Monday to round out the bullpen. It was Mastny's first big league start, though he made 56 starts at the Minor League level before converting to full-time relief work in 2005. As a corresponding move to Westbrook going on the DL, the Indians promoted right-hander Jensen Lewis from Buffalo to relieve Mastny. Lewis began the season with the Indians, posting a 3.58 ERA in 20 appearances. He was optioned to Buffalo on May 24 to get his location and command back in check. Lewis, pitching on a set schedule aimed at getting him in a more consistent routine, made two appearances for the Bisons, giving up a pair of runs in four innings of work. "I'm just getting back to the routine I had last year," said Lewis, who posted a 2.15 ERA in 26 appearances for the Indians in '07 and was a reliable late-inning option. "The move [to Buffalo] was predicated upon getting me back to being that guy to help late in games. I'd rather take care of it early in the year than have a bad habit creep up in July or August and not have time to fix it." The Indians told the 24-year-old Lewis to expect to head back to Buffalo after Tuesday's game to continue to work on getting his mechanics and velocity back in order. With Westbrook not due back for at least two weeks, the Indians will line Sowers up to take the empty spot in the rotation from this point forward. Sowers has already made two spot starts for the Tribe this season and gone 0-0 with a 5.23 ERA. He will be called up to start Sunday against the Tigers. Westbrook first felt soreness in his elbow after a start against the White Sox last Wednesday. That start was his first after missing more than a month with a strained left intercostal muscle. The trip to the DL is his third in the last two seasons. The Indians expected to have an update on Westbrook's timetable on Wednesday.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.