ST. LOUIS -- A right oblique injury will prevent right-hander Jake Westbrook from traveling with the Cardinals during their upcoming seven-game road trip, which begins in San Diego on Monday.
That means Westbrook won't make his scheduled start on Thursday. And there's no guarantee that he will return to the mound anytime soon. With only 23 games remaining and the Cardinals in a dogfight for a playoff spot, the timing couldn't be worse.
Westbrook admitted, too, that "it's a possibility" his 2012 season could be over.
"It's pretty annoying," Westbrook said. "It's pretty sore today."
Westbrook felt an uncomfortable pull in his right side as he delivered a 1-0 pitch to Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez in the fifth inning on Saturday. Westbrook said he considered calling out a trainer at the time, but instead opted to pitch his way through the discomfort.
He threw eight more pitches to finish the inning. Westbrook was pinch-hit for in the bottom half of the frame.
"Something didn't look right early on, but he didn't feel anything yet," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was just fighting to really find his [arm] slot. It was one of those starts that you just fight your way through. He was most likely coming out [for a pinch-hitter] anyway. But obviously that made that decision very easy."
Westbrook is slated to undergo a series of tests on Sunday and/or Monday to determine the severity of the oblique injury. Healing times for this type of injury can vary drastically. Westbrook has been shut down from an oblique strain twice before, though both of those were on his left side, which does endure more stress during the right-hander's pitching motion.
Westbrook missed approximately six weeks recovering from the side injuries in 2007 and 2008.
Though the oblique injury can't be blamed, Westbrook has not pitched well as of late. A string of 13 straight starts of at least six innings ended on Aug. 23, and Westbrook hasn't stuck through the sixth in four starts since. Opponents have hit .400 off Westbrook in those four outings, and he has given up 17 runs in 20 1/3 innings.
On the season, Westbrook is 13-11 with a 3.97 ERA. Though he dealt with a number of injuries during his time in Cleveland, Westbrook has not missed a start since joining the Cardinals in July 2010.
Berkman to have knee examined in Houston
ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman did not fly with the Cardinals to San Diego on Sunday. Instead, the first baseman headed home to Houston, where he will be re-examined by the doctor who performed the operation on Berkman's right knee three and a half months ago.
General manager John Mozeliak said the club will wait until after Berkman is examined on Monday before making a decision whether to continue allowing him to play or shutting him down for the season.
Berkman has been troubled by knee discomfort since trying to return from knee surgery. Since Aug. 3, Berkman has made just one start and has only six plate appearances.
The Cardinals are expected to announce what Berkman's next step will be on Monday.
After hand injury, Carpenter returns to lineup
St. Louis -- With glue keeping several hand lacerations from breaking open again, Matt Carpenter returned to the lineup on Sunday. He did so, too, without batting gloves.
Carpenter, who wears batting gloves only if playing in frigid temperatures, was concerned that he'd have to don a pair to keep several cuts from reopening on his hands. Carpenter sustained the hand lacerations -- the deepest gash being on his left middle finger -- when his bat shattered during a swing on Saturday.
Carpenter had to be taken out of Saturday's game because of all the bleeding. At the time, Carpenter was told he might need stitches to address the cuts on his right middle and ring fingers. Instead, the medical staff was able to repair the wounds with glue.
"I'm just going to play through it," Carpenter said. "It's a little sore. I have five cuts. But it's nothing bad enough to keep me out."
Carpenter, who says he doesn't wear gloves because he "just [doesn't] like the way it feels," surmises that the bat he shattered on Saturday may have already been compromised by a crack. He otherwise said he can't understand how the bat broke the way it did and why a ball he squarely hit didn't go further.
Carpenter had been using that same bat for more than a month.
Cards explore possible replacements for Westbrook
ST. LOUIS -- The right oblique injury that will keep Jake Westbrook off the mound for at least one start will create a starting opportunity for someone else. As for who that may be, the Cardinals aren't saying. So let the speculation begin.
The Cardinals have three starting pitchers -- Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Lance Lynn -- currently sitting in the bullpen, and all could step in as a fill-in for Westbrook. The start would come on Thursday, in the opening game of a key four-game series against the Dodgers.
Lynn, who was unplugged from the rotation after his Aug. 24 start, obviously has the most starting experience at this level. But the right-hander has not had encouraging results as of late. After posting a 7.79 ERA in his last four starts, Lynn has given up 10 hits and six runs (five earned) in six innings of relief.
Both Miller and Rosenthal have made strong first impressions at this level, but neither has made a Major League start. Rosenthal has made nine appearances out of the bullpen and held opponents without a run in six of those. Miller made his Major League debut on Wednesday with two shutout innings.
If the Cardinals are concerned about which spot starter could provide the most length, Miller would seem to be positioned best to win that debate. He made a six-inning start on Aug. 31.
The fourth name that has to be mentioned, is Chris Carpenter. As his throwing program is currently set up, Carpenter is scheduled to throw about 60-70 pitches during a simulated game on Monday. That workload would be too heavy for Carpenter to then make a start three days later.
However, the Cardinals could, of course, switch the schedule, should the club want Carpenter to step in immediately. And if nothing else, Carpenter's impending return gives St. Louis some cushion should Westbrook be sidelined for more than just one outing.
Double-A affiliate advances to championship
ST. LOUIS -- Double-A Springfield will play for a Texas League championship after defeating Tulsa, 3-1, in Game 5 of the best-of-five, North Division Championship series on Sunday.
Springfield rode a sensational start by Boone Whiting to the victory. Whiting limited Tulsa to one run on one hit and two walks in seven innings. He struck out four. In the meantime, Springfield's offense built up a lead against opposing starter Dan Houston.
Consecutive doubles by Jamie Romak and Chris Swauger pushed across a run in the second. Swauger scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly. After Tulsa cut the deficit to one, Springfield answered back in the fourth when Swauger doubled and scored again.
Relievers Eric Fornataro and Keith Butler closed the game with scoreless relief appearances.
Springfield will face the Rangers' Double-A Frisco affiliate in the Championship Series. Frisco advanced there with a three-game sweep in their first series. The best-of-five Championship Series begins on Tuesday. Springfield will host the first two games.
With his left ankle still swollen, David Freese sat out of Sunday's series finale against the Brewers. Freese suffered a mild ankle sprain coming out of the batter's box in the sixth inning on Saturday. X-rays came back negative, and manager Mike Matheny said that the injury "doesn't seem to be something that's going to keep him out for very long."
The Padres will send the following pitchers out to make starts during their upcoming series against the Cardinals: Eric Stults (5-2, 2.35 ERA), Edinson Volquez (9-10, 4.27 ERA) and Clayton Richard (12-12, 3.78 ERA).
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.