CLEVELAND — The plan is for Jake Westbrook to make another rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday. After that, there is no plan — at least not yet.
The Indians are playing a wait-and-see game with Westbrook, who has been on the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle since May 2.
The right-hander made his first rehab appearance Friday, but though head trainer Lonnie Soloff set mid-June as Westbrook’s projected return date, the Indians aren’t looking past his next.
“We’re going to hold off on getting beyond that until he throws again,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge.
Westbrook’s rehab debut was a rough one. He allowed five runs on seven hits through just 11/3 innings of Buffalo’s 15-3 loss to Toledo.
“Obviously we’re not looking at results,” Wedge said. “We just want to make sure he was strong and healthy, and he was.”
When Westbrook is ready to leave the disabled list, the Indians will have to clear a spot on their roster and in their rotation. With Fausto Carmona pitching well, the most likely candidate for demotion is struggling left-hander Jeremy Sowers.
Josh Barfield hasn’t gotten a lot of hits in his debut season in Cleveland, but a number of them have been big ones, as evidenced by his 27 RBIs on 45 hits through Friday.
“A lot of people want to put the game in black and white. You can’t do that,” Wedge said. “There’s guys who have a knack for two-out hits and things like that.”
After a slow start Barfield has made strides at the plate, entering Saturday at .241 with hits in 12 of his last 15 games.
We want Datz
Is Cleveland’s unassuming bench coach Jeff Datz becoming a cult hero?
In a game at Jacobs Field earlier in the year, a group of guys in the bleachers spelled out “Datz Disciples” on their chests. More recently, cameras caught two girls holding up a sign that read: “We love Datz.”
“Yeah, I was looking for their seeing-eye dog, too,” joked Datz, who was asked to explain all the fan recognition. “I have no idea.”
The Indians, who are interested in acquiring Troy Percival, might have relief help coming in a different form in right-hander Cliff Politte.
The 33-year-old Politte, a nine-year veteran who was a key member of the White Sox bullpen in 2004-05, threw a bullpen session without incident at extended spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., on Friday.
Politte signed a minor league contract this spring after missing most of last season with shoulder problems that required surgery in August.
The Indians are looking for assistance in the pen with relievers Fernando Cabrera and Roberto Hernandez struggling.
“We work hard to be patient,” Wedge said. ‘We feel like we have good ballplayers here and if we’re patient they’re going to perform like we think they will.”
With their come-from-behind victory over the Tigers on Friday, the Indians became the sixth team this season to score five or more runs in the ninth inning to win a game.
Cleveland has actually been involved in three of the games, winning Friday, while losing 8-6 to the Yankees on April 19 and 10-7 to the A’s on May 13.
The Indians overcame three four-run deficits against the Tigers, winning 12-11 after scoring five runs in the ninth inning.
“It was a good game to have the last at-bat,” Wedge said.
The Indians entered Saturday with a 5-0 record against Detroit, outscoring the Tigers 41-26, while batting .316 off their pitching staff.
l Cleveland’s pitching staff entered Saturday with an ERA of 3.92 at home, compared to a 5.05 ERA on the road.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137