© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/11/09 5:59 PM ET

Indians taking precautions with Reyes

Toronto (5-1) at Cleveland (0-5), Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET

CLEVELAND -- Anthony Reyes didn't have to bargain with the NCAA to get some extra college eligibility, but he pitched for Mount Olive College in his last spring tuneup.

The game was an exhibition Tuesday in Kinston, N.C., where Reyes went up against the Tribe's Class A farmhands. It was a work day in anticipation of Reyes' first start of the season, which comes Sunday in the series finale against the Blue Jays at Progressive Field.

"It was good," Reyes said of the exhibition, in which he gave up one run over 4 2/3 innings and struck out eight batters. "I got to work on some things and get ready for Sunday."

Reyes actually returned to his own collegiate roots over the winter, as he worked with mentor and USC pitching coach Tom House to refine his mechanics and, he hopes, lessen the probability that his chronic right elbow problem will flare up again this season.

House saw some flaws in Reyes' mechanics that caused his right elbow to fly open on his delivery, and that's a no-no for a guy with perpetual elbow issues. Reyes had picked up some bad habits, and House helped him correct them.

The Indians saw positive results from Reyes' offseason work when he reported to spring camp and had some strong starts. He had a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings over his first four outings before closing on a rough note against the Cubs. Overall, he limited the opposition to a .226 average against.

Reyes is one of the many question marks in an Indians rotation that has been nothing short of shaky in the season's first week. But his question marks are related more to his past elbow issues than his performance.

The 27-year-old Reyes has an upper-80s/low-90s fastball that he spots up well, and he offsets it with a curveball and a solid changeup. Last season, after the Indians acquired Reyes from the Cardinals just before the Trade Deadline, he had all his pitches working for him in six starts. Reyes went 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA, but elbow inflammation forced him out of action in early September.

"I showed [the Indians] what I can do and what I've done for years," Reyes said. "I just have to make sure I keep my mechanics [in check]. I have to make sure I throw strikes and do my best to establish myself on both sides of the plate."

The Indians are making sure they take care of Reyes early on, which is why he's been slotted into the fifth rotation spot. Given his elbow history, they want to give Reyes as much time between starts as possible as a precautionary measure.

"I feel like it's a judgment call, and I'm excited that they care about me," Reyes said. "I feel good enough to pitch, but it's nice that they care about my arm."

They also care about winning. And on Sunday, they'll be relying on Reyes to pitch them to that first precious win of '09.

Pitching matchup
CLE: RHP Anthony Reyes (2009 debut)
Reyes made his Indians debut against the Jays last year, and it was an impressive one. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just a run on seven hits to get the victory. That was his only career appearance against Toronto.

TOR: LHP David Purcey (0-0, 2.57 ERA)
In his season debut Tuesday, Purcey gave the Blue Jays exactly what they need from him this season. The left-hander lasted seven innings, yielding three runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Purcey, who finished with 101 pitches -- 61 strikes -- didn't use his changeup once, opting to stick with an array of fastballs, sliders and curves. When he did slip out of the strike zone, Purcey was able to correct himself quickly and limit the damage. Purcey faced the Indians once last season, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings in a losing effort.

Sunday's game will be broadcast on WMMS 100.7 FM because of a WTAM conflict with the Cavaliers' schedule. ... The Indians are 0-5 for the first time since 1985. The last Cleveland team to start out 0-6 was the 1914 Cleveland Naps, who began the season 0-8 and finished 51-102. ... Tribe starters are 0-4 with a 13.28 ERA in the season's first five games. ... According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians became just the fourth team since 1900 to allow 42 or more runs in their first four games of the season. The others were Milwaukee in 1901 (45), the St. Louis Cardinals in '54 (47) and Baltimore in '78 (44). ... The Indians are just 5-for-39 (.128) with runners in scoring position this season.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WMMS 100.7 FM

Up next
• Monday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 0-1, 10.80) at Royals (Zack Greinke, 1-0, 0.00), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Indians (Carl Pavano, 0-1, 81.00) at Royals (Kyle Davies, 0-0, 0.00), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Indians (TBD) at Royals (Sidney Ponson, 0-1, 6.00), 2:10 p.m. ET

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.