CLEVELAND — The Indians have set a timetable for Jake Westbrook’s return, with the right-hander expected to miss at least four weeks due to a strained intercostal (rib cage) muscle.
Westbrook landed on the disabled list after sustaining the injury in his last start — April 19 in Minnesota. It was the second time in his career that he was placed on the DL during the first month of the season. He missed just under two months with a left oblique strain that he suffered in his third start of 2007.
“It may be all of four weeks, because his symptoms persisted seven days after the initial injury,” said Cleveland’s head trainer Lonnie Soloff.
Soloff said Westbrook received a cortisone injection Friday and that he was pain-free Saturday.
Westbrook was off to a fast start, posting a 2.72 ERA over his first four starts, as he attempted to rebound from a subpar season last year (6-9, 4.32 ERA in 25 starts).
In other injury-related news, closer Joe Borowski (strained right triceps) will begin playing catch Monday, and like Westbrook, is expected to miss the next four weeks.
Triple-A Buffalo outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, played three innings in right field Wednesday and Friday at extended spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., and is expected to stretch it to six innings next week. If all goes well for Choo, he will begin a rehab assignment at Buffalo in hopes of being activated in mid-May.
Left-hander Jeremy Sowers was promoted from Buffalo to start against the Yankees on Saturday and, as expected, outfielder Ben Francisco was optioned back to Triple-A.
Francisco played in two games, batting .333 (2-for-6) with a double and an RBI, and figures to be back up on the big league level again before the September call-up period.
Cleveland needs another starter for the series finale with New York on Monday, and left-hander Aaron Laffey is expected to be promoted from Buffalo to fill the vacancy. The Indians will have to clear a roster spot for Laffey. Sowers is the most likely candidate to be sent down while Laffey fills in for Westbrook until he is healed.
Wedge drew his first ejection of the season and the 20th of his career Saturday, arguing a fielder’s choice out at second base with crew chief Derryl Cousins in the eighth inning.
Wedge had heated words for Cousins and after pointing in the umpire’s face repeatedly, he was tossed. Replays showed that Wedge had a point.
With no outs and a man on first, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano bobbled an off-balance throw from shortstop Derek Jeter and didn’t secure the ball until he was well off the bag to force out Victor Martinez.
Rafael Perez, a left-hander who was close to impenetrable out of the bullpen last season, has gotten off to a slow start, entering Saturday with a 5.25 ERA through his first 11 appearances.
“I need the ball to move a lot,” said Perez through interpreter and first base coach Luis Rivera. “The last couple times, it hasn’t been moving as much.”
Perez found plenty of movement in his last outing Friday, pitching 21/3 scoreless innings to preserve a 6-4 victory over the Yankees. He allowed just a walk over the span.
“It was better,” Perez said of the movement on his pitches.
Indians starting pitchers entered Saturday with the third-lowest ERA (3.88) in the American League, posting a 6-1 record and 2.15 ERA over the last eight games.
• Sowers first-inning error in Saturday’s game snapped a nine-game errorless streak for the Indians. The team is 2-7 when they make an error in a game.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.