Pavano takes the mound for the first time in more than a year Saturday night as the visiting Yankees continue their three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
The oft-injured Pavano signed a four-year, $39.95 million contract with New York (68-60) before the 2005 season, but he’s started only 19 games for the Yankees due to an assortment of injuries. Just two of those starts have come since June 2005, as he’s struggled with injuries to his shoulder, back, buttocks and elbow - which he’s had three surgeries on alone.
Pavano’s tenure in New York has been much maligned in the press and among Yankees fans, but the right-hander is looking forward to returning to the mound despite the criticism.
“I’m really excited. I’m champing at the bit,” said Pavano, who is 5-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 19 starts with the Yankees. “That’s what I have worked for, to get where I am now. I am not where I want to be, but I am where I need to be to move forward. This is the next big test.”
Pavano is coming of elbow ligament replacement surgery last June, which led to a 14-month rehabilitation period. He is 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles (61-66).
“No question, if he pitches well and we win, it’s a great story for everyone,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “That’s the situation we’re in right now. We need to find ways to win. It’s good for him to be back, to be healthy. And hopefully he pitches well for us.”
Jeter collected his 2,500th career hit and Bobby Abreu went 5-for-5 as the Yankees won Friday’s series opener 9-4.
Abreu is 11-for-25 (.440) in the last six games.
“The key to the whole game was we didn’t get Abreu out at all,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “He won’t chase bad pitches; that’s probably why he is as good of a hitter as he is.”
The Yankees, though, failed though to make up any ground in the playoff race. They remained six games behind Boston for the wild card and 10 1/2 in back of AL East-leading Tampa Bay.
New York has won four of its last six, but is just 10-15 since July 27 and is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
The Orioles have lost three of four to start this nine-game homestand, and are 7-6 this season against the Yankees.
Jeremy Guthrie (10-9, 3.15) takes the mound for Baltimore on Saturday. Guthrie, 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA in his last six starts, pitched seven innings Monday against Boston, allowing two runs and five hits while walking five in a 6-3 loss that snapped his four-game winning streak.
“Probably the biggest struggle I’ve had all season with my stuff,” Guthrie said. “It might have been the toughest outing of the season for me as far as laboring.”
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance against the Yankees. In two starts against them this season, he is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA.