CLEVELAND -- It was mentioned to Jason Stanford that he gave the Indians higher-ups plenty to think about with his impressive spot start against the Marlins on Thursday. "That's my goal," Stanford said with a big smile. "That was my plan." Now, Stanford can plan on making another start. Manager Eric Wedge confirmed on Friday that right-hander Jake Westbrook will be given one more rehab outing before being activated from the 15-day disabled list. So the left-handed Stanford will be Tuesday's starter against the Phillies.
Stanford's six strong innings against the Marlins, however, did not play into the decision. Wedge said it was made before Thursday's game by design. "We made the decision before, because you're going to be emotional [about Stanford's showing], one way or another afterwards," Wedge said. So what went into the decision to rehab Westbrook, coming back from a strained left abdominal muscle, a little longer? "He needs to build himself up a little bit to compete [in the Majors]," Wedge said. "Minor League pitches are different than big-league pitches. This is just about building him up and making sure he's going to be that much stronger." The results of Westbrook's rehab outings, to this point, have not been overly encouraging. In three starts at Triple-A Buffalo, Double-A Akron and Class A Lake County, he has compiled a 12.46 ERA. Wedge, however, said the only number that played a factor in the decision was his pitch count. Westbrook threw 66 pitches in his outing on Tuesday at Lake County, and the Indians want to build him up higher. The club has not decided where or when Westbrook's next outing will be. For his part, Westbrook, who threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon, said he's improving. "I felt I got better with each of my starts, and that's what you want," Westbrook said. "My last one was a lot better. I was able to locate all my pitches." What to do? When Westbrook returns, the Indians will have to decide what to do with Stanford, who has been in their organization since they signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 1999. Stanford is out of options, and if Thursday's start is any indication, it's doubtful that he'd clear waivers if the Indians tried to send him down. That's a good situation for the pitcher, who has been wallowing in the Minors since coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2004. "Hopefully, I'll get to the next step and prove I belong up here," Stanford said, "and keep rolling with it."
The Indians are not completely ruling out giving Stanford a spot in long relief after his starting stint is up. "We'll leave all our options open," Wedge said. "We won't pigeonhole ourselves." Stanford wants to remain a starter, but he's open to anything, as long as it involves him staying in the bigs. "I think I have the mentality to be a bullpen guy," Stanford said. "If the bullpen is where they see me just to keep me up here, I'm not going to complain." Travel log: Stanford's dramatic drive to Dolphin Stadium on Thursday is well-documented. He and his wife, Kara, got lost on the way from the team hotel, and the pitcher didn't arrive at the yard until 5:45 p.m. ET -- one hour and 20 minutes before the first pitch. But Stanford's flight from Norfolk, Va., where Buffalo was playing, to Miami on Wednesday was no picnic, either. He got to the airport two and a half hours before his scheduled departure, only to find out his flight was canceled. Luckily, Stanford was around early enough to catch the last scheduled flight to Miami. That he was around that early is rare for Stanford, who says he's habitually a last-minute arrival at the airport. And this is, remember, the same guy who proposed to his wife while going through security at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport a couple of years back. "We were even almost late then," he said with a laugh. Tribe tidbits: FOX has added the Aug. 4 game in Minnesota to its slate of national "Saturday Game of the Week" broadcasts. The start time for that game has been moved from 7:10 p.m. ET to 3:55 p.m. ... The league has changed the scoring of a play from the June 8 game in Cincinnati. The Reds' Brandon Phillips had received a fourth-inning double that was changed to a two-base error on third baseman Casey Blake. As a result, Cliff Lee's earned runs allowed from that game have gone from four to three. ... The Indians didn't arrive in Cleveland after Thursday night's game until 3 a.m. The team did not take formal batting practice before Friday's Interleague series opener against the Braves. Down on the farm: Jeremy Sowers made his first start at Triple-A Buffalo since he was optioned down. He gave up three runs on eight hits over seven innings and took the 3-1 loss to the Norfolk Tides on Thursday. ... Left-hander Chuck Lofgren led Double-A Akron to a combined 4-0 shutout of New Hampshire. Lofgren gave up just four hits and three walks over six innings. ... Right-hander Sung-Wei Tsent gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings to earn his first win for Class A Kinston, which beat Lynchburg, 8-3. ... Jeanmar Gomez gave up 10 runs on 14 hits in 4 1/3 innings, as Lake County fell, 10-1, to West Virginia. On deck: The Indians continue their three-game set with the Braves with Saturday's 3:55 p.m. game at Jacobs Field, as FOX will broadcast it as the "Game of the Week." Right-hander Paul Byrd (6-2, 4.50 ERA) will start opposite right-hander John Smoltz (7-3, 2.83).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.