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Westbrook preparing to come off disabled list Friday

CINCINNATI -- Jake Westbrook wasn't sure Wednesday what plans St. Louis decision-makers had for him when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, but whatever they are, he believes he's ready.

Westbrook, on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 22 with a lower back strain, threw all of his pitches during what he described as two "extended" simulated innings in the Great American Ball Park visitors' bullpen before Tuesday's game and reported no problems a day later.

"It feels pretty good," said the right-hander, who turns 36 on September 29. "I was able to get up and down a couple of times. I got after it pretty good. I was trying to gain stamina."

Westbrook's "crispness" and "sharpness" still needed work, manager Mike Matheny said before Wednesday's game, adding that the pitcher's role once he is ready will depend on the team's needs at that time.

"You don't want them getting one thing in their mind when we don't have answers," Matheny said. "It's our job to put him in the right spot."

Westbrook, who is 7-8 with a 4.49 earned run average in 18 starts and one relief appearance this season, said he would prefer to return to the starting rotation when he's activated. He was able to maintain his conditioning after taking a few days off when the problem -- which he described as more of an "aggravation" than spasms or "locking up" -- first developed.

"I don't know what their plans are for me," Westbrook said.

What Westbrook did know was he would be tweaking his physical regimen in an effort to avoid further problems.

"As you get older, things start hurting," Westbrook said.

Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to
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