Blog Entry

Another step forward for Indians' Westbrook

Posted on: March 12, 2010 5:11 pm

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro will tell you there are three clear keys to the Indians' 2010 season: Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson, who right now are the top three starters.

Shapiro thinks the Indians will score enough runs, he likes their bullpen and they have several candidates -- young, but experienced -- to pick from for the fourth and fifth starters' slots.

As for those first three starters, there are issues with each. Westbrook hasn't started a regular season game in nearly two years because of reconstructive elbow surgery. Carmona has never been able to replicate his 2007 command. And Masterson, after bouncing between the rotation and bullpen in Boston, has yet to prove himself as a starter.

So each time out for that trio is a test this spring, and on Friday, against a Los Angeles Angels' split-squad, it was Westbrook's turn in his second start of the spring. Though the numbers didn't look good (three hits and four earned runs allowed in 2 1/3 innings), Westbrook sailed through in fine form and said he felt "great."

"I gave up four runs total, but I felt 100 times better than when I gave up one run last outing," said Westbrook, who allowed a run on one hit and three walks in 1 2/3 innings against Arizona on March 8 in Tucson. "I feel so much better confidence-wise, and how I attacked the hitters."

Westbrook, who won 44 games for the Indians from 2004-20006, was mainly hurt when he left a fastball up to Mike Napoli, who crushed it for a three-run homer. If you're grading on the curve, Napoli has crushed everything in sight this spring: With 21 total bases in 16 at-bats, his slugging percentage is 1.312 and he's hitting .438 (7 for 16).

After surrendering a double, single and homer to start, Westbrook retired the next six hitters in what mostly was an Angels 'B' lineup -- and seven of the next eight.

"Another step," Westbrook said. "Another step toward getting back to full strength. I feel like I'm definitely back to full healthy."

Sunblock Day? Don't look now but it actually hit 70 degrees here today. Whoo-hoo! Still chilly enough in the shade that jeans are preferable to shorts.

Likes: Woodjock, a charity event hosted by White Sox starter Jake Peavy, went off splendidly Thursday night in Scottsdale. Peavy, a beginning country crooner, held it together and played a couple of songs he's written. Former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams is terrific on the guitar, as you've probably heard. Excellent rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and nice solo on James Taylor's You've Got a Friend. Retired big leaguer Ben Broussard and his band probably was the best -- he's really good. Bronson Arroyo's emo singing  wasn't bad, either. Aubrey Huff? I'll pass. Great crowd, roughly 1,400 folks showed up. You should have seen the line out front just before the doors opened. And fine job by Rick Sutcliffe as master of ceremonies... Love the framed photo in the Goodyear press box with the caption "Did anybody pack the snake?" The photo shows the Indians' press corps hard at work in the old press box in Winter Haven, Fla., where the Indians trained until last year, and it's a reference to the time a snake literally slithered into the press box near Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and scared the poor guy half to death. ... Also like all the airplanes just sitting in the desert far over the right-field fence here in Goodyear. It's a giant parking lot for dozens of airplanes. ... Everyone loves Rerun and the old 1970s television show What's Happening!!, don't they? And, who wouldn't want to watch the classic theme song once more?

Dislikes: The plethora of cameras along the interstate and at red lights in Arizona looking to bust you and take money out of your pocket. It's unbelievable how many there are. I've seen plenty of red-light cameras, but here there are cameras set up along the freeways to catch speeders. Big brother is always watching you in the state of Arizona. Be careful, it's disgusting.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You bitch about the present
"And blame it on the past
"I'd like to find your inner child
"And kick it's little ass"

-- The Eagles, Get Over It

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