Cardinals add Westbrook to roster

Jake Westbrook is hoping for another postseason appearance, this time with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Westbrook, acquired from Cleveland in a three-team deal on Saturday, was added to St. Louis’ roster on Sunday and will start Monday against Houston. Infielder Tyler Greene was placed on the 15-day disabled list to make room on the roster.

The rebuilding Indians have struggled all season, while the Cardinals began the day on top of the NL Central.

“This is pretty exciting,” said Westbrook, who will wear No. 35 with St. Louis. “I want to get comfortable as soon as I can. The reason why you play this game is to compete for the playoffs. I’m looking forward to that.”

A 2004 All-Star, the 32-year-old Westbrook is 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA in 21 starts this year. He made three postseason starts with the Indians in 2007, going 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA.

St. Louis traded outfielder Ryan Ludwick to NL West-leading San Diego as part of the deal to get Westbrook, who is eligible for free agency following the season.

“My preference would be to keep players that we have control over and not do something that could be viewed as a rental,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, referring to Ludwick being one year away from free agency.

“But the fact is, if we didn’t change the current dynamics of this club right now, I couldn’t envision us winning,” Mozeliak added. “So one of the things (manager) Tony (La Russa) and his staff discussed — and myself and the staff upstairs — was how could we do that. One of the things we all agreed on was we had to get somebody to give us some quality innings, and we needed that sooner than later.”

The Cardinals had expressed interest in Westbrook for a while, but the pitcher said he didn’t know if anything would happen.

“I didn’t know what to expect but I’m excited to be here,” Westbrook said. “Pitching in front of these fans and getting to the playoffs will be fun.”

He’ll also get to hit now.

“I’ve only had 14 at-bats in my career so I don’t have too much experience with that,” Westbrook said. “I think I’ll definitely get more chances now.”

La Russa said it was tough to lose Ludwick.

“It would be nice to keep Luddy, but if you look at needing more offense than needing a starting pitcher, we feel like we have some young guys that can make us competitive,” La Russa said. “They may not be as productive as Luddy yet, but we have some that we can play and we were really in need of a starting pitcher.”

Westbrook made just five starts in 2008 before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. He also was sidelined last year and is 69-71 overall in 10 major league seasons.

Also Sunday, the Cardinals announced third baseman David Freese will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment Monday at Double-A Springfield.

He has been sidelined with a broken big toe on his left foot and a bone bruise in his right ankle.

Freese worked out at Busch Stadium before the Cardinals played the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“They said I looked good and I felt great,” Freese said. “Obviously, the last test was running the bases. I’ve done everything else. I took some hard ground balls but that’s always the case with (third base coach Jose) Oquendo. I ran the bases well.

“I’m ready to rock. I’ve got to be honest, I feel good. My bags are packed; I’m ready to go.”