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Updated: August 22nd, 2012 11:22pm
Despite latest injury, Pavano's time with Twins helped redefine image

Despite latest injury, Pavano's time with Twins helped redefine image

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Shut down for the season due to a bruised right humerus bone, it's entirely possible Carl Pavano has pitched his last game in a Minnesota Twins uniform. The 36-year-old right-hander is set to become a free agent this offseason and he hasn't touched 90 on a radar gun since September of 2011.

But if Pavano is indeed done in Minnesota, he will certainly leave Minneapolis wearing a different label than the one he wore after leaving New York four seasons ago.

Between 2005 and 2008 -- after signing a four-year, $39 million deal with the Yankees -- Pavano pitched only 145 2/3 innings, posting a 5.00 ERA with 23 home runs allowed. His list of serious ailments included shoulder, back and elbow injuries, and two different surgeries.

To this day, many New York media members speak ill of Pavano's attitude, willingness to take the ball and fragile nature.

Despite another season coming to an end prematurely due to injury, Pavano's reputation is -- or at least should be -- much different four years later.

In an effort to rebuild his stock, Pavano signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Cleveland Indians as a 33-year-old in 2009. Between Cleveland and Minnesota that season, Pavano wound up pitching 199 1/3 regular-season innings. He went on to pitch 221 innings in 2010 and 222 in 2011.

Over that three-year stretch from 2009 to 2011, only 11 pitchers logged more innings than Pavano, and the list represents some good company -- Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Dan Haren, Cliff Lee, James Shields, Jered Weaver, Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.

Pavano also attempted to pitch with an 86-mph fastball and a dead throwing shoulder for nearly three months this year, including spring training.

Behind the scenes, Pavano's teammates rave about his leadership and ability and willingness to pass down knowledge. Scott Diamond credits Pavano heavily for helping him pitch deep into games regularly.

Should three years of logging innings define Pavano's entire career? Probably not.

But four years ago Pavano was labeled as "fragile." Now, most would likely lean toward calling him a bulldog.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Scott Diamond, Carl Pavano
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