Carl Pavano 'not going to second-guess' pitching through shoulder pain
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Carl Pavano is inching his way closer to a return to action.
Sidelined since June 1 due to a strained shoulder, Pavano said Friday that he has been throwing from flat ground and hopes to pitch off a mound as soon as next week.
Even if all goes well over the next week-plus, Pavano said he would still need at least one rehab start.
"I'm moving along," Pavano said. "It's been slow but steady. It's definitely been a longer process. It's been frustrating at times, but I think I'm at a point right now that I can start looking towards next week, possibly getting off the mound. I've got a couple of more throwing sessions to get through to get to 150 feet.
"It's no fun being in this position. It's an opportune time to be a starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. They need me. That's why they signed me for two years. It's been frustrating for me not to be able to go out there and compete for my team. There's no doubt. I'm letting myself down. I'm letting everyone down around me. But there are things that are out of my control right now."
Pavano, owner of a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts, saw his average fastball velocity drop into the mid-80's this season (86.8 mph) after averaging 89 mph in 2011. He revealed in early May that shoulder discomfort was hindering him since spring training, and an MRI showed no structural damage but just a mild strain.
In 2011 Pavano threw at least 99 pitches in 25 of his 33 outings, and fewer than 88 only once. Prior to landing on the disabled list this year Pavano threw 99 pitches or more in only two of those 11 starts, and five times he threw fewer than 80.
Despite the low velocity and less movement than usual on his pitches, Pavano elected to pitch through discomfort -- a plan that mostly backfired.
"This is one of those situations where I'm not going to second-guess it," Pavano said. "I am where I am right now. I just have to move on. Looking back, hindsight is always 20-20, but to be honest with you I did the right thing. I needed to take the ball. We had (Scott) Baker who was going through some things. That's my job, to take the ball.
"I didn't pitch well and I was definitely dealing with something that was hindering me a little bit. My honest opinion was that I was going to get through it. There's no doubt about it. I've been down this road. ... Maybe it would have been a better decision (to shut it down earlier), but I can't do anything about it now other than work hard and get back. ...
"When I started talking to Dr. Buss in the beginning I was getting frustrated, because I had gotten shut down. I wasn't doing any throwing and I was just trying to get the inflammation out of there, trying to get the strength back, and it wasn't happening quick at all. It wasn't feeling like there was much progress. I went to him a bunch of times and he was like 'This takes time. There is really is no secret recipe.'
"Some guys bounce back like that. Some guys take a little longer. It just so happens that it took me a little longer, but now that I look back on it I'm kind of glad I didn't rush it and I stayed the course, because now I'm in a better spot than I was three weeks ago. I wish it's been two weeks, but it's been five weeks. I really can't do much about it. I'm doing everything I can to go out there and help the team."
Once regarded as a fragile pitcher from his days with the New York Yankees, Pavano has transformed himself as one of baseball's most durable workhorses over the past few seasons.
Because of that workhorse status, Pavano said it's been difficult mentally to accept being sidelined.
"You see the team going through a lot of starters, calling up guys that maybe weren't quite ready to start, but we have no one because I'm not available," Pavano said. "You feel like you put your team in that position and I did in essence. It's not something I did on purpose.
"They paid me a lot of money to go out there and be the guy they can count on and they haven't been able to do that. There's no doubt that it's frustrating for me and everyone involved. There's not much I can do, there's not much I can control then work hard, stay positive and be here for my teammates and do everything I can do to get back."
Pavano, 36, is in the final year of a two-year, $16.5 million contract. Had he stayed healthy it's likely he would be a prime trade target with the July 31 deadline looming.
The Twins originally acquired Pavano before the waiver trade deadline in August of 2009, so that remains a possibility as well.
Nate Sandell contributed to this report.