Westbrook strained an oblique in his right side during a Sept. 8 home start against the Brewers, leaving after five innings in what turned out to be a 6-3 loss. Westbrook, a 12-year veteran, didn't exert himself in any way out of the ordinary, but he knew he was in trouble midway through the fifth inning."It was one pitch in that start on Sept. 8," he said. "I kind of struggled through the rest of the inning and knew I was done after that. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to keep pitching, but I wanted to follow through it, battle through the innings. I threw eight or nine more pitches or so and got through the rest of the inning unscathed." According the Major League Baseball rules, teams can reset their 25-man rosters prior to the start of their next postseason series. Playoff teams must petition the league office to replace a player who is injured during a series. The Cardinals did just that during their NL Division Series against the Nationals, when starter Jaime Garcia developed a sore left shoulder and was replaced by rookie Shelby Miller. Manager Mike Matheny proclaimed after Westbrook's sim game on Tuesday that the 35-year-old is healthy and ready to go if the situation warrants. "Jake threw very well," said Matheny, who also used the opportunity to have some of his rusty bench players face pitching. "As we move forward, we need to see what we have available, take a look at all the options, look at the opposition and be able to make an adjustment from there. There's always the opportunity, too, which we didn't foresee, of a guy like Jaime Garcia being hurt in the middle of a series and then we have to make a move." Westbrook went 13-12 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 starts and hasn't pitched in a game since the injury, the third oblique strain of his career. Tuesday marked the fourth time he pitched off a mound since finishing his rehab, including a bullpen session in San Francisco on Saturday. Westbrook isn't sure what the next step is; Matheny hasn't talked to him about it yet. "It was good to get out there, face hitters and show them the hitters' reactions to get a good feel of where I am," Westbrook said. "It's just showing them that if the opportunity comes about, I'm definitely ready and capable."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.