Pavano has support staff in Cleveland
While book drudges up past, righty looking toward future
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carl Pavano came here to get a fresh start, but a piece of his past has a fresh spot on the bookshelves.In his new book, "The Yankee Years," former Yankees and current Dodgers manager Joe Torre offered some rather unflattering remarks about Pavano, who, because of a variety of injuries, made just 26 appearances for New York over the course of a four-year, $40 million contract.
Not only did Torre, who co-authored the book with Tom Verducci, claim that "the [Yankees] players hated" Pavano, but he also questioned his loyalty to the organization. He implied that Pavano had an unwillingness to pitch through pain."He's a guy with all these issues in his life," Torre wrote, "and he's not sure what's important and what isn't." At the Indians Player Development Complex, the 33-year-old Pavano has spent the last two weeks getting to know new teammates and a new manager. He said he has no use for revisiting the past. "Obviously, I heard about it," he said of the book. "I wish nothing but the best for [Torre]." While Torre clearly doesn't have a great deal of respect for Pavano, Pavano's new manager couldn't care less about what happened in New York. "That doesn't mean a thing to me," Eric Wedge said. "You can write that down." Wedge and Pavano go back quite a ways. They met through a mutual friend at a baseball camp when Pavano was a 20-year-old Red Sox prospect, and they had a lengthy discussion in Cleveland in January, when Pavano was about to sign his one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tribe. "I look at Carl like this is the start to the second half of his career," Wedge said. "We're excited to have him here, and I think he's excited to be here. He's surrounded by people who are going to support him and take care of him." After four years spent mostly in the isolation of rehab, Pavano couldn't ask for more. "I wanted to put myself in a position to where the resources around me are going to help and make me better," he said. "That was the big thing." Yet the Indians have offered Pavano more than that. The third spot in their rotation has been promised to him, even though he made just seven starts last season. Those seven starts came after Pavano recovered from the Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery he had performed in 2006, and he views them as a base to work off this spring and in the season ahead. How he fared -- a 4-2 record with a 5.77 ERA in a total of 34 1/3 innings -- didn't matter to him nearly as much as how he felt. While he didn't feel any limitations with his arm, he said he did have some trouble finding his rhythm. "I had days where I felt really good, rhythm-wise, and I had days when I had to feel my way through it," he said. "As far as trusting my elbow, it was never a thought. I was never worried about hurting my elbow again. I wasn't tentative. But I tended to be in three pieces with my delivery. It was tough picking it up halfway through the year and not having a Spring Training or anything." Pavano thinks he's found the right rhythm to get back to the type of success he had in 2004, when he was an 18-game winner for the Marlins. He's been in camp for two weeks and has been throwing off a mound, and he feels his delivery has a fluidity to it that was lacking last year. But Pavano also enters this season with a completely different psychological mindset. Once a focus of attention -- much of it negative -- in New York, here he's been given a low-risk contract with only the most reasonable of expectations. He won't be asked to be a savior of the Indians' rotation, and he won't be hounded by questions about his worth. Still, when it comes to those questions, Pavano said he learned to understand the New York media, which was not exactly kind to him, and its role in the game. The man referred to as "American Idle" developed a thicker skin. "You've got to put things in perspective from a player's point of view and realize [reporters] are just doing their job," he said. "A lot of the time, it was hard for me, because I had to always talk about negative stuff. It wasn't like I went seven scoreless and helped the team get into the playoffs or I closed out a sweep on a road trip. It was always negative stuff for me. That's what was hard for me, because I wanted to put it behind me, and you can't put it behind you if you're always talking about it." The negative talk continues in the pages of Torre's book. But with the Indians, Pavano has been given an opportunity to write a new chapter in his career. "That's the one beauty about baseball," he said. "From year to year, you can find yourself in a better situation."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.