ST. LOUIS -- Encouraged by how good his elbow felt while throwing on Thursday, Jake Westbrook said he is hopeful of making his first Minor League rehab appearance as early as next Tuesday.
Westbrook estimated that he threw 60-65 pitches without a break on Thursday, using the session to throw a variety of pitch types at full intensity. It was the second pain-free bullpen session for Westbrook since he had a setback in San Diego last week.
"How it feels and what I was capable of doing today, it's a great feeling," Westbrook said. "It actually feels today the best it's felt this year, even in the games I pitched. I've been battling something basically since Spring Training. I was able to get through it and move past it, but it actually feels better now than it did then."
Westbrook said he expects to throw a light side session on Saturday -- similar to the ones that starters throw in between starts -- and then pitch for one of the organization's Minor League affiliates on Tuesday. With Double-A Springfield at home next Tuesday, that would likely be Westbrook's destination.
The Cardinals have not explicitly stated a number of rehab starts that Westbrook will need before he can come off the disabled list, though Westbrook estimated it as "a couple at most." He last pitched on May 8, after which elbow inflammation and a buildup of scar tissue forced him to the disabled list. Two cortisone shots helped break up that scar tissue.
"We didn't know how this was going to head and then it turned the corner," manager Mike Matheny said. "Compliments to Jake and the medical staff for figuring out a way to get him better."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.