MILWAUKEE -- Jake Westbrook's season debut will come nine days after his final Grapefruit League start, an unusually long layoff to start the year. He will, however, be on no sort of pitch limit on Monday against the Reds after throwing between 70-80 pitches during a bullpen session on Tuesday.
The session was designed to take the place of a start that wasn't available, and Westbrook used the chance to pitch in a non-competitive setting to focus heavily on his changeup, which wasn't sharp in his final Grapefruit League outing. Command of that pitch and his fastball were both satisfactory in Tuesday's session.
Westbrook then made one final tuneup on Thursday, throwing a less intense side session like the ones he would normally throw in between regular-season starts.
"I'm ready to go," Westbrook said. "This was probably one of the best springs I've ever had. I'm super confident in where I am. I just want to try and keep that going and be as consistent as I can possibly be."
Manager Mike Matheny went a step further, calling Westbrook "without question ... the biggest spring surprise." Not only did Westbrook arrive in Florida close to 20 pounds slimmer than he left St. Louis last October, but he complemented those body changes with terrific spring results.
In 24 Grapefruit League innings, Westbrook allowed only 12 hits, seven walks and four earned runs. Three of those runs came in one of his five outings.
"It's just a shame that we had to wait so long to get him in there [for a regular-season start]," Matheny said. "I'm just really happy for him. To see a guy who is that determined, you'd like to see the positive results."