Pavano adjusts workout in preparation for season

Updated: February 2, 2007, 7:39 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Carl Pavano says he's healthy and ready to pitch again in the major leagues.

Carl Pavano

Really. Honestly. Truly.

"I've thrown three bullpens. I just threw one this morning. I feel pretty good," he said Friday.

The New York Yankees pitcher, starting the third season of a $39.95 million, four-year contract, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since June 27, 2005, due to shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries. Earlier in the week, teammate Mike Mussina said Pavano "needs to earn the trust from the players, the coaches, the manager and the organization."

"I welcome any kind of thoughts like that, especially from my teammates, especially from someone that I respect like Mike Mussina," Pavano said during a telephone conference call.

"I couldn't really have said it better myself. I understand the position I put myself in with the things that have happened over the last couple of years," Pavano added. "I totally understand why there's question marks."

Pavano, a 31-year-old right-hander, went 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts for the Yankees two years ago before going on the disabled list. Having spent time with his teammates late last season, he doesn't feel a need to apologize for the distractions he caused.

"I don't think I rubbed anyone the wrong way or disrespected anyone in any way," he said.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman envisions Pavano will be part of a rotation that will include Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Kei Igawa.

For Pavano, a turning point was when his new agent, Gregg Clifton, introduced him to Brett Fischer late last year. Pavano spent about nine weeks during the offseason in Phoenix working out four-to-five hours each weekday at Fischer Sports Physical Therapy & Conditioning. On weekends, he rode mountain bikes.

"The injury itself on my back just really messed my whole body up," Pavano said. "It worked from my back and it went into my shoulder, my elbow, my legs. It kind of just took over my whole body."

Preparing for the start of spring training on Feb. 15, Pavano worked out on machines that he hadn't used before, ones he said were more common for track athletes and body builders.

"I don't think I've worked any harder this offseason than I have in the past. I've definitely worked smarter and attacked issues that Brett was able to capitalize on and make stronger," he said. "It was a lot of flexibility stuff. A lot of the motion in my back was lost over the years and I regained a lot of that, and a lot of the strength that was lost over the years and obviously shoulder strength."

Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood, Eric Gagne and Kevin Millar work out there, too. Fischer had Pavano exercise in unconventional ways. To get back the whipping motion in Pavano's windup and separate his shoulder and hip movements, Fischer had Pavano straddle tables "like he was riding a wide, wide horse." Pavano also worked with medicine balls and pulleys.

Fischer said Pavano had restricted movement in his lower back, hips and both ankles, and that the pitcher needed massage therapy.

"It involved identifying specific joints that weren't moving the way they were supposed to be move," Fischer said in a telephone interview. "He had a lot of -- I call them nagging injuries. He had learned to compensate one after another, and it kind of steamrolled on him a bit. I said, 'Let's start again and let's get all these joints moving correctly.' "

Pavano and the Yankees still have one issue to resolve. Cashman wants to hold a formal meeting to discuss what happened last year, when Pavano withheld from the team that he had injured his ribs in a car accident. The Yankees may attempt to discipline Pavano for hiding the injury from the team for several weeks.

"Our desire is probably to have a chance before spring training, if possible, or certainly early in spring training," Clifton said. "We'll just all get together and try to sit down and hash it out a little bit and move forward from there."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press