CLEVELAND -- Right shoulder soreness has pushed back Carl Pavano's next turn in the Indians' rotation, and elbow soreness has pushed back Jake Westbrook's timetable for a big league return from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow.
These developments announced Wednesday are, no doubt, a sore spot for a Tribe team still trying to piece together a reliable rotation. Pavano had become the club's No. 2 starter in the wake of Fausto Carmona's demotion to rookie ball, and the Indians were hoping Westbrook would boost the rotation by the end of the month.
The good news, relatively speaking, is that Pavano's soreness doesn't appear to be anything serious. Originally slated to start Saturday against the Cubs, he'll now be pushed back to make Wednesday's start in Pittsburgh. Tomo Ohka will take Saturday's start at Wrigley Field. Pavano said he's not injured, but manager Eric Wedge revealed Pavano is dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder, which may or may not be a result of his pitching with neck stiffness against the Royals on June 10. "Giving him a couple days [off] will help," Wedge said. Pavano's past two starts have seen him give up 15 runs over 9 2/3 innings. He said the neck bothered him against the Royals but was not a factor in his no-decision against the Brewers on Monday. With the way the Indians' schedule lines up for the remainder of the first half, Pavano said he'll get the same number of starts -- four -- before the break with this arrangement as he would have if he had made his Saturday start. "This will allow me to catch up on some things," Pavano said. Here's one potential concern regarding Pavano going forward. He's logged 81 2/3 innings over 14 starts, to this point, and that's just short of the 93 1/3 innings he's pitched over the last three injury plagued years in the Majors and Minors with the Yankees. But Wedge said he doesn't think Pavano is dealing with a tired arm. "His stuff's been good," Wedge said. "He's just been up a bit." As for Westbrook, he was originally scheduled to make his third rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Columbus. When the soreness forced the Indians to scratch him from that start, the team announced Westbrook would instead throw a bullpen session Wednesday. But that backup plan was scrapped, as well. Now, Westbrook is firmly in wait-and-see mode. The Indians have not said when they expect him to throw again. "It's disappointing, because I was real close [to coming back]," Westbrook said. "But it's one of those things where, when I come back, I don't want [the elbow] to be in my head. I want to be able to let the ball go." Westbrook has dealt with the usual post-surgery soreness in his elbow throughout his return-to-throw program, but the soreness reached a new point after his start for Double-A Akron last Friday. "We'll take some days here and evaluate it and see how it responds to treatment," Westbrook said.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.