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Updated: June 2nd, 2012 9:59am
In the past, Carl Pavano has 'always been able to make a big pitch'

In the past, Carl Pavano has 'always been able to make a big pitch'

by Phil Mackey
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After what he went through in New York five years ago, Minnesota Twins right-hander Carl Pavano is the last player who wants to spend time on the disabled list.

But there may not be another option.

Pavano was hit hard yet again on Friday night in Cleveland, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings. The grand slam home run he allowed to Jason Kipnis gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead.

For the second straight game Pavano was only able to induce five groundballs. In his previous start at Target Field against the Tigers he allowed six earned runs on 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings.

Pavano -- dealing with shoulder discomfort for much of the last three months -- now owns a 6.00 ERA, and he still hasn't hit 90 mph on the radar gun this season. Pavano's 41% groundball rate is his lowest since 2003.

Prior to Friday's game manager Ron Gardenhire, in an interview with 1500 ESPN, said the lack of movement on Pavano's pitches has just as much to do with his struggles as the dip in velocity.

"He'll tell you the same, his pitches aren't finishing as well as they had in the past, and that's one thing he's looking for, his to get the ball to finish," Gardenhire said. "His slider gets there and it used to bite, and really go down and away, and it's been kind of hanging up there. And he hadn't located his changeup very well. He's got a great changeup. ...

"The velocity thing, if he gets the ball where he wants to normally he's pretty good, but his pitches have to finish a little bit better, and that's why he's been giving up the big runs. ... He's always been able to make a big pitch in a big situation, but his ball's not finishing for him right now."

Gardenhire added, "He's well-rested, he hasn't thrown a lot of innings, and this is the time for Carl to step up and get us going on this road trip against a good Cleveland team."

That didn't happen. And after the game Pavano told reporters, "I think it's come a time where some decisions need to be made. This has gone on long enough. I wish I could say it's a rough patch. I feel like I'm really treading water right now. It (going on the DL) is the last thing I want to do, but there comes a time when you're hurting the team and hurting yourself."

Pavano stayed back in Minneapolis two weeks ago in the days leading up to his start in Milwaukee so he could get more work done on his shoulder. Pavano continues to say publicly the shoulder isn't an excuse, and that the discomfort has gotten a lot better.

But the results are only getting worse, and it appears he's still having trouble finishing pitches. The 78-mph changeup Kipnis hit out was a prime example -- up in the zone with absolutely no bite.

Pavano's average fastball in 2011 was 89 mph, his changeup 81, and his slider 82.5. On Friday night his average fastball was 87 and his changeup was 79. Pavano's changeup is perhaps his most important and effective pitch, and this year it lacks the necessary sharpness.

It remains to be scene if the Twins make a roster move, but the status quo doesn't appear to be an option at this point.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 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: Ron Gardenhire, Carl Pavano