Notes: Consistency goal for Westbrook

Notes: Westbrook seeking early consistency

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- At a certain point, a starting pitcher can no longer shrug off his Spring Training numbers as, well, Spring Training numbers.

At a certain point, those numbers start to mean something.

Jake Westbrook, apparently, has reached that point.

After turning in six innings of work in the Indians' 4-2 win over the Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex Saturday, the right-handed Westbrook said he's turned the corner in his outlook on these Grapefruit League outings.

"Once you start getting into where you're going to go five or six innings, you say, 'OK, this is a game-type atmosphere,'" Westbrook said. "When you first start Spring Training games, you know you have two innings or 40 pitches or whatever. Today, I had 90 pitches. That's a great pitch count for a game. That's a good atmosphere."

With good results. Westbrook gave up a pair of runs, one of which was unearned, on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

He was satisfied, except for that walk total.

"I just got a little erratic," he said. "But I felt strong. I felt like I battled in a season-type situation."

Westbrook knows the real battle lies ahead. He has one last spring tuneup remaining before he gets the ball in the Tribe's second game of the season, on April 4 in Chicago.

Last year, a 2-9 start marred his season. The 2004 All-Star had to rally to post a 15-15 record and 4.49 ERA. That record, bloated on both ends, gave him the odd distinction of tying for eighth in the league in wins and third in losses.

Needless to say, Westbrook is hoping to order up some consistency in '06.

"If I'm consistent and getting ahead and getting early contact and weak-hit balls, the numbers will play out toward the end of the season," Westbrook said. "Anything can happen during the year, so you just need to concentrate on what you need to do that day for that routine and that start, and then you're OK for the long haul."

In Westbrook's mind, that sometimes means taking a look at meaningful numbers and not drawing too many conclusions from them.

"If I got caught up in the 2-9 record and whatever the ERA was, I would have been in for a long season," he said. "But I grinded it out and ended up having a great year. Things started to even out for me."

And as far as Spring Training is concerned, things are starting to look a little more real to Westbrook.

Staying in the 'pen: Jason Davis has bounced back and forth between starting work and relief work a lot the past few years, but the Indians don't want him to do much bouncing this season.

Indians manager Eric Wedge said Saturday that even if Davis doesn't lay claim to the last open spot in the bullpen, he'll begin the season in the Triple-A Buffalo bullpen, not the rotation.

spring training 2006
News and features:
• Patience paid off for Westbrook:  350K
• Sizemore hasn't changed approach:  350K
• Sabathia ready for Opening Day:  350K
• Travis Hafner on goals for '06:  350K
• Aaron Boone on upcoming season:  350K
• Ryan Garko on switch to first:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

"He'd be a priority guy down there," Wedge said.

Davis, who is battling veterans Danny Graves and Steve Karsay for the Tribe's final bullpen spot, has gone 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA in nine appearances this spring.

As for that bullpen job, Wedge said he and his staff are not leaning one way or another on the decision just yet, but they expect to start leaning soon.

"Come Monday, we'll probably be leaning in one direction," Wedge said. "But it's going to be a mid- to late-week before we make a final decision. We want to let this one play out."

Guthrie goes down: As expected, the Indians sent right-hander Jeremy Guthrie down to Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday.

Guthrie made his first start of the exhibition season Friday against a depleted Blue Jays roster and pitched two scoreless innings. For the spring, he went 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA and one save in nine innings of work, striking out eight batters and walking two.

The Tribe's No. 1 pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Guthrie will pitch in the Buffalo rotation and could potentially provide starting depth for the Indians this season.

"This guy's really turned the corner," Wedge said. "He's more consistent and more confident. Even in conversation, you can tell his development has come a long way."

With Guthrie gone, the spring roster now stands at 31 players.

Injury watch: The Indians are hoping to have infielder Brandon Phillips available to play four or five innings of Sunday's home game against the Reds.

Phillips hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since March 17 because of strep throat. He worked out Friday and was expected to play in a Minor League game Saturday.

Phillips, who is out of Minor League options, is competing with Ramon Vazquez for the Tribe's utility infielder's job. In 12 exhibition games, Phillips has hit .323 (12-for-31).

Catcher Victor Martinez suffered a sprained ankle in a Minor League game Wednesday, but he was back in the Tribe's lineup for Saturday's game.

"We have to play it carefully," Wedge said. "But he's fine."

On deck: The Indians face the intrastate rival Reds at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday at Chain of Lakes Park. Davis will start against left-hander Brandon Claussen. Danny Graves, Matt Miller, Bob Wickman, Guillermo Mota and Scott Sauerbeck are also scheduled to throw for the Tribe.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.