Sowers to fill in for Westbrook

Sowers beats out Laffey for fill-in role

KANSAS CITY -- The Indians have already resurrected one left-hander -- Cliff Lee -- who was demoted from their rotation last season.

On Saturday, it will be Jeremy Sowers' turn.

Manager Eric Wedge announced Wednesday that Sowers will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo and given the starting nod for Saturday's home game against the Yankees. Sowers will be taking the rotation spot of Jake Westbrook, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle on his left side.

Sowers was 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA in four starts for the Bisons. He was chosen over fellow left-hander Aaron Laffey, who was 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in four starts.

"We had different reasons that we looked at for choosing Jeremy," Wedge said, "but we would have been comfortable choosing either one of those guys."

Wedge didn't get into the specifics of why Sowers was chosen. Sowers was scheduled to throw Saturday for Buffalo, so he'll go on regular rest, while Laffey is pitching Thursday, but Wedge said rest was not an issue in the choice.

What's more likely is the Indians were impressed enough with Sowers' spot start against the Mariners in the last week of the '07 season and his strong spring to feel he's once again capable of being the guy who was one of the American League's best pitchers in the second half of '06.

Sowers went 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 14 starts for the Tribe in his rookie season of '06, including a 2.72 second-half ERA that was the second best in the league. But his velocity was down at the beginning of '07, and he got knocked around to the tune of a 1-6 record and 6.93 ERA in 12 starts before a June demotion to Buffalo.

The velocity crept back up by the time he tossed five shutout innings against the Mariners on Sept. 17.

"I think you have to look at the total package," Wedge said. "That last start he had last year, he just brought it into the spring. I was pleased with both Jeremy and Aaron and how they threw the ball this spring."

Sowers will be facing a Yankees team that pummeled him last April. He gave up six earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

But Wedge isn't worried about Sowers' recent history against the Yanks.

"He's not the same guy," Wedge said. "You look at what he's gone through, and you look at the adjustments he's made and how he's learned so much about himself, and I think he's better for it."

When Sowers is called up, it's expected that outfielder Ben Francisco will be sent back down. Francisco joined the team Tuesday, when Westbrook went on the DL.

"There's always possibilities," Wedge said, "but there's [no other move] we're seriously considering right now. I told Benny it's more than likely just a couple days."

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