The oft-injured right-hander gets his first chance Thursday when he tries to help the Indians avoid being swept in a three-game road series against the Texas Rangers.
Pavano makes his Cleveland debut after a tumultuous four seasons with the New York Yankees. After going 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA with Florida in 2004, a variety of injuries limited him to 26 starts and loads of scrutiny while in the Bronx.
Now, away from New York and the reminder of not living up to his four-year, $40 million contract, Pavano is hoping for a rebirth with the Indians (0-2), who haven’t been swept in a three-game season-opening series since 1985.
“It’s a new start,” said Pavano, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Cleveland after recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery to go 4-2 with a 5.77 ERA in seven late-season starts for the Yankees last season.
“The health is there and repetition should help me get back to being my old self,” he said. “I take it as a compliment that (the Indians) believe in me and they’re giving me the opportunity.”
“I feel like we’re making a pretty good bet about him physically because he’s far enough along and beyond that,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I feel pretty confident when I look at him in our rotation. We still think there is a lot there.”
A solid outing in his first appearance against the Rangers (2-0) would help Pavano and his new club after Cleveland was outscored 17-6 in losing its first two games.
“That’s a good hitting club,” Wedge said of the Rangers. “They’ve gotten some pretty good swings out there the last couple of days.”
“It’s always good to start with wins,” said Cruz, who is 4-for-9 in the series. “Since spring training, everybody has talked about being together and supporting one another.”
Ian Kinsler is also 4-for-9 in the series for the Rangers, who haven’t swept an opening series since 1996.
“Elvis is not going to hit many home runs,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “But every now and then, he’s going to catch one.”
Brandon McCarthy takes the mound for Texas after missing most of 2008 with severe right elbow inflammation. He went 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in five starts— all in August and September—after going 5-10 with a 4.87 ERA in 2007.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in five starts against the Indians.
Martinez is 5-for-12 with four doubles, a home run and two RBIs lifetime against McCarthy.