Pavano primed to do his job for Yanks
Oft-injured righty ready to make first start since April 2007
BALTIMORE -- Carl Pavano was gathering high fives and shaking hands on Friday afternoon in the Yankees' clubhouse, the first time the right-hander has been in a position to do so in more than a year.
Pavano, who has been recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery since June 5, 2007, will be back on the mound for the Yankees on Saturday night. It will be his first Major League start since April 9, 2007, an 8-2 victory over the Twins.
"Me and [general manager Brian Cashman] have had a lot of conversations over the years -- this was one of the better ones," Pavano said with a laugh of the phone call he received on Thursday night.
On Friday, Pavano was greeted with open arms in a clubhouse that is starting to become desperate for both starting pitching and victories.
"There's always an urgency to win, especially this time of year," he said prior to the Yankees' opener with the Orioles. "We definitely have goals ahead of us that we need to attain, and that's wins, and I want to be a big part of that."
But the return of the oft-injured right-hander also provides a unique opportunity for him to prove himself, even for just a short while, in a Yankees uniform, whether he chooses to acknowledge that fact or not.
"I'm going about it like Saturday is a big start for me and the team, not to make amends," he said. "I'm not here to make amends, I'm here to do my job, and that's to win ballgames. That's what I would have liked to have been doing the last three years, but that just hasn't worked out that way, and to put my energy into thinking about the past and worrying about what has gone on does me no good and does the team no good.
"That's not the main goal right here. The main goal right here is to pitch and win games for this team, and that's the way I'm going to go about it, one start at a time, and I'll assess everything when the season's over, whenever that is."
Pavano's injuries have ranged from his elbow to his buttocks and everything in between, and he has made just 19 starts for New York since signing a four-year, $39.95 million contract after his impressive 2004 season with the Marlins.
But first he must get through the Orioles, and he stressed on Friday that he is looking at his opportunity in the big leagues one start at a time.
"As far as I'm concerned, the surgery [and] the optimism of whether I was going to get through it is behind me," he said. "I'm healthy, and I'm going to keep moving on. I'm not looking for other things to go wrong, and I'm not expecting them, but I've just got to keep working hard and take it day by day."
"He can't do anything about [the surgery] -- that's over with," manager Joe Girardi said on Friday. "The good thing is he's healthy, and he's going to pitch for us tomorrow, and we're glad he's back. He's a guy that's had success at a very high level, and we're looking forward to doing it again."
Pavano feels that he is Major League ready, having been rehabbing in Tampa, Fla., for much of this year. In his last start before being called up, he threw 88 pitches over six innings for Double-A Trenton, allowing just one earned run and earning the win. He cited improved command and strength from where he was physically during Spring Training this season.
Pavano will be on a pitch count of around 100 on Saturday.
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.