Indians, Pavano reach one-year deal
Injury-plagued right-hander looking to re-establish career
CLEVELAND -- In New York, he was viewed as oft-injured and overpaid.In Cleveland, he'll be viewed as a low-cost starting option with major upside. Carl Pavano needed a change of scenery, and the Indians needed a more veteran presence in the middle of their starting rotation. The two sides satisfied their respective needs by agreeing to a one-year contract Tuesday. Pavano is guaranteed $1.5 million and a spot in the rotation for 2009, with the possibility to earn another $5.3 million in performance-based incentives. The incentives don't kick in until Pavano notches at least 18 starts. The deal does not include an option. "If he's healthy, he'll be in our rotation," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "And we expect him to be healthy." To ensure as much, the Indians, who designated first baseman Michael Aubrey for assignment to make room for Pavano on the 40-man roster, subjected Pavano to a physical evaluation Tuesday and were satisfied with the results. But Pavano, who turns 33 on Thursday, obviously comes with more than his fair share of injury concerns, given that he appeared in a grand total of 26 games for the Yankees over the course of a four-year, $39.95 million contract. The right-handed Pavano's 2005 season was cut short at 17 starts because of rotator cuff tendinitis. He missed all of 2006 because of a variety of ailments, including a bruised buttocks he suffered in a Spring Training game. He was on the disabled list at the start of the season, and he had bone chips removed from his right elbow midseason. He was expected to return to action in late August, but he suffered a right rib fracture in a car accident and didn't immediately reveal the injury to the Yankees. In 2007, Pavano made two starts -- including the start on Opening Day -- but his season was again cut short, this time by Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Pavano finally saw more extensive action at the tail end of the '08 season. He made seven starts in the last two months of the season, going 4-2 with a 5.77 ERA in 34 1/3 innings of work. He did, however, leave one start early because of a stiff left hip. Shapiro insisted that Pavano should be ready for action in '09. "He's physically strong, in great shape, he's worked hard and he's focused," Shapiro said. "It will be important for us to work with him to maintain his health. Obviously, this is a guy who's had Tommy John surgery. Hopefully that took care of the bulk of his issues."