GOODYEAR, Ariz. - As Jake Westbrook ran sprints in the outfield grass, a Cleveland fan leaned over the railing in right field and offered his critique.
"Hey, Jake," the man hollered. "Great outing."
Westbrook smiled. "Thanks," he said.
One more step in the comeback complete.
Westbrook, whose career was nearly ended by an elbow injury, outpitched two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Shin Soo-Choo homered off San Francisco's ace and Travis Hafner drove in three runs yesterday, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-1 exhibition win over the Giants.
Penciled in by new manager Manny Acta to be the Indians' opening-day starter, Westbrook allowed one run and two hits in four innings. It was his best outing this spring and a huge confidence builder for the right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008.
"I was just throwing strikes with all my pitches, getting ahead and pounding the zone," the 32-year-old said. "I was able to do that. I was being very aggressive and when I'm aggressive and throwing strikes it makes all of my pitches that much better. For me right now, it's just fine tuning my command."
Westbrook hasn't pitched in a major league game since May 28, 2008, but that didn't stop Acta from picking him to open the season on April 5 in Chicago.
PITCHER TRADE: The Cleveland Indians have acquired right-hander Omar Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers.
In return for the 25-year-old, the Brewers are keeping left-hander Chuck Lofgren. Milwaukee selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in December. To send Lofgren to their minor-league system, the Brewers had to work out a deal with Cleveland or offer him back for half the $50,000 they paid in the draft.
The 24-year-old Lofgren went a combined 9-11 with a 4.15 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in the Indians' system in 2009.
Aguilar split 2009 between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He went 3-1 with a 4.72 ERA and 14 saves.