ST. LOUIS — Jake Westbrook is tuning up for a possible return to the St. Louis Cardinals' active roster.
Westbrook, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 8 when he suffered a strained right oblique, has thrown three bullpens during the postseason and pitched a simulated game Tuesday.
Westbrook could be available, perhaps in a long-relief role, if the Cardinals defeat the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series and advance to the World Series.
"I felt great," Westbrook said of his 49-pitch outing Tuesday. "It was good to get out there and face hitters. It's letting them know I'm capable of getting out there and doing the job if necessary. ... I'm just showing if the opportunity comes about, I feel ready and capable."
Westbrook threw to Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter, Skip Schumaker, Adron Chambers and Shane Robinson. Berkman is not on the roster and he recovers from right-knee surgery, and Carpenter, Schumaker, Chambers and Robinson have combined for just 15 at-bats in eight postseason games.
"Jake threw very well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "And it was an opportunity for two things: one, for us to see Jake back on the mound, for him to see live hitters. And actually the third (advantage) would be for some of our hitters, who haven't been getting at-bats, to see a live arm. It was a win all-around."
Matheny was noncommittal about whether Westbrook would be activated in the World Series.
The same could be said of Berkman, who slowly is rounding into better physical condition but still has difficulty running.
"We look at all our options and put (a plan) together, depending on what our opposition looks like, and try to figure out who gives us the best chance," Matheny said.
Matt Holliday's late slide into second base that injured the Giants' Marco Scutaro in the first inning of Game 2 on Monday remained a topic of discussion Tuesday.
Matheny reiterated that there was no intent on Holliday's part to injure Scutaro.
"What I see is a guy who I've never seen one act of trying to hurt anybody," Matheny said. "And I would never believe that's what he was trying to do. He was trying to play the game hard and trying to break up a double play. Unfortunately, a player did get hurt on the other side. But I know what Matt's intentions were and he was thinking about his team at the time."
Matheny doesn't know whether ill feelings will carry over into Game 3.
"The more it's kept alive and talked about like this, the more it just seems to linger," Matheny said. "And every team handles adversity how they handle it. I understand no player likes to see another one of their players hurt. That's the way we do this. We're a family. Our team would be in the exact same boat."
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy is ready to bury the hatchet.
"What's on our mind is to go out and play our best ball in the ballgame," he said. "That's over. You have to move on. You hate to see what happened, happen. What's important is we keep our focus, and going out there and trying to win a ballgame."
Matt Cain, the Giants' starter in Game 3, expects a clean slate between two teams that are defined by their tough personalities.
"That was yesterday," Cain said of Holliday's slide.
X-rays on Scutaro's left hip were negative, but it's not yet known whether he will be in the Giants' lineup Tuesday. Reserve second baseman Ryan Theriot could get the nod, since he is 12-for-22 in his career against Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse.
"We're not looking for anybody to be hurt here," Matheny said. "We don't play the game that way. We do play hard and we understand that they play hard. That's the way the game goes."
Scutaro delivered a two-run single that, combined with an error on left fielder Holliday, gave the Giants a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning. Theriot added a two-run single in the eighth.
Holliday expressed remorse that Scutaro had to leave the game. Holliday said he wished he would have started his slide earlier.
"I know he was concerned about Scutaro's health and tried to reach out over there," Matheny said. "And I saw his comments and heard him first-hand that f he had to do it over again, he wouldn't slide quite so late."
An ominous weather forecast looms for Game 3, with rain chances at their highest for the first pitch at 3:07 p.m.
If the game is rained out, everything would be pushed back one day. In that scenario, unless one of the teams sweeps the three games in St. Louis, the series would not have another off day.
"We've seen the forecast and it looks like it could be potentially rough," Matheny said. "But we also understand this is the Midwest and that can change. So we're going to show up tomorrow anticipating to play on time."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.