CLEVELAND — Jake Westbrook will return to the Indians’ rotation Sunday, pitching in the series finale at Washington.
Jason Stanford, the pitcher Westbrook will replace, who knows?
“We haven’t come to any resolution,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “It’s going to take more conversations that’s ultimately going to lead to a difficult decision.”
The decision hinges on whether the Indians are willing to risk losing Stanford, a 30-year-old left-hander who made his second start in place of Westbrook on Tuesday. Stanford, who won a job in Cleveland’s rotation in 2004 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, is out of minor league options and would have to clear waivers before rejoining Triple-A Buffalo — an unlikely prospect.
Wedge said there was a chance Stanford could move to the bullpen, but that to seems unlikely.
While Stanford pitched brilliantly in his debut June 14 against the Marlins — six innings, one earned run — Westbrook, who has been on the disabled list since May 7 with a strained abdominal, has struggled in his rehab appearances.
In four starts, two for Buffalo, one for Double-A Akron and one for Class A Lake County, Westbrook is 0-3 with a 9.24 ERA, allowing 20 hits and eight walks in 122/3 innings.
But the Indians aren’t concerned with the results, just with Westbrook’s health.
“The importance for us is how he feels, getting him built up and not having any (injury) problems,” Wedge said.
Barfield gets behind Grady
Wedge has moved Josh Barfield into the second spot in the batting order with the second baseman recovering from a sluggish offensive start to enter Tuesday hitting .262 on the season and .355 (22-for-62) with eight RBIs over his last 17 games. Before moving into the two-hole Monday, Barfield had hit in the bottom three spots of the order the entire season.
“I feel like he’s been pretty consistent for a long period of time now,” Wedge said.
One good month at the plate isn’t much to brag on, especially for a back-up catcher. But Kelly Shoppach has taken it a bit further, batting .391 (25-for-64) with three homers and 13 RBIs in 27 games. He’s also come up with some big hits in limited at-bats, hitting .333 (7-for-21) with runners in scoring position.
“I try to get good pitches to hit,” Shoppach said. “I have to scratch and claw for everything. I try to get myself into good counts, and when I get a good pitch, I don’t want to miss it.”
In and out
Casey Blake’s big league-high 26-game hitting streak came to an end Monday with the third baseman getting the night off on Tuesday.
“He’s earned it,” Wedge said. “He was due a day off a long time ago, but with the streak going, we wanted to keep him in there.”
A scuffling Travis Hafner returned to the lineup following a two-game absence.
Buffalo’s Adam Miller, Cleveland’s top pitching prospect, threw a one-inning simulated game Tuesday in Buffalo without incident. Miller, who sustained a strained flexor tendon in his right middle finger and hasn’t pitched since May 12, will be re-evaluated by doctors before beginning s throwing program.
l Akron led the Eastern League in scoring (326, 4.9 per game) and ranked second with a .270 team batting average through Monday.
l Class A Kinston third baseman Wes Hodges, a second-round pick in the 2006 draft out of Georgia Tech, entered Tuesday riding a 17-game hitting streak — the second-longest streak in the Carolina League this season.
l The professional debut of this year’s top draft choice, Beau Mills, was postponed Tuesday when Class A Mahoning Valley was rained out.
The Indians signed their 12th-round pick from this year’s draft, Texas A&M right-hander Garrison Campfield. Cleveland has signed seven of their top 12 draft choices.
l A couple of area high school standouts — Amherst Steele’s Brett Szakats and Bay High’s Matt Francati — will participate in the second annual High School Home Run Derby on Friday at Jacobs Field. The event, featuring a home run hitting contest between 10 Northeast Ohio prep stars, will be taped to be televised on SportsTime Ohio.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.