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01/09/09 2:59 PM EST
Pavano finds right fit with Indians
Right-hander has plenty of motivation after New York experience
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Carl Pavano's four seasons with the Yankees were painful enough on the physical front. But when speaking to reporters Friday about his decision to sign with the Indians, Pavano made them sound painful on the emotional front, as well. "When you're down, you expect your organization to pick you up, not kick you when you're down," Pavano said. "I've had to pick myself up quite a few times the last four years." Pavano's time in New York will be remembered for the punchlines, not the punchouts. He was paid $39.95 million to pitch in 26 games, and his work ethic and commitment to the organization was openly called into question by his teammates. Now, through an incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $1.5 million and a guaranteed spot in the starting rotation, the Indians are offering Pavano a fresh start he is eager to capitalize on. "To make it eight, 10, 12 years in the big leagues, you've got to be a pretty motivated person," he said. "I've been through surgeries I wasn't sure I'd come back from. I've won a World Series, I've been to the All-Star Game. I've been at the top of the game and the bottom of the barrel. ... I don't think I could be any more motivated than I am right now." The Marlins and Blue Jays were among the other teams taking a look at Pavano. The Indians, who feel the 33-year-old right-hander can return to the form that won him 18 games in Florida in 2004, wooed him with that rotation guarantee. "A lot of offers wanted me to come to camp and have to make the team," Pavano said. "Not that I thought I was above that, but I didn't want to have to be looking over my shoulder. There is some risk on me, and I understand that. I failed for four years in New York, and the perception hasn't been that great, and I understand that. To have a team like Cleveland step up to the plate, how could I ask for anything more?" Pavano said he asked general manager Mark Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge plenty of questions before he agreed to the deal. He inquired about the health of Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez, in particular, because he knows how crucial they could be in the Tribe's playoff hopes. During his visit to Cleveland earlier this week for a physical examination, Pavano saw Westbrook, Hafner and Aaron Laffey at Progressive Field, checking in with the team's trainers. "It shows the dedication the organization has toward the players, and the receptiveness of the players to the organization," Pavano said. "I've been in four or five organizations, and it was new to me. I was refreshed by it all. They obviously have the resources that I think will benefit me and the team. I was more excited once I saw it in action, and I've been blessed with the right fit."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.