Elbow surgery possibly in Pavano's future
New York Yankees
While the Yankees were completing an agreement with Roger Clemens this weekend, they were learning that Pavano could need elbow surgery that would sideline him for most if not all of the remainder of his four-year contract.
Pavano was examined Friday by Dr. James Andrews. While damage was found in the elbow, the ligament was not torn, a Yankees official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn't make any announcement. The team would like Pavano to try to rehabilitate without an operation, but the oft-injured pitcher was leaning toward surgery, the official said, speaking Sunday before New York's game against Seattle.
"I talked to Pav a little bit today. We're talking about starting a throwing program out there and trying to pitch," Yankees manager Joe Torre said after a 5-0 win over the Mariners. "He's not sure at this point in time on shutting it down."
Gregg Clifton, Pavano's agent, said the 31-year-old right-hander sounded discouraged when he talked with him briefly. Clifton said he didn't want to comment on the possibility of surgery until after he spoke with Andrews on Monday.
Recovery time for elbow ligament surgery usually is 12 to 18 months.
The likelihood of elbow surgery was first reported Sunday by The Hartford Courant.
"My feeling is, he is hurt," Torre said. "Now, are you supposed to feel 100 percent every time you go out there? That's not possible. But, again, I guess it's the nature of the injury that really dictates what you can deal with."
Pavano is 5-7 in 19 starts with the Yankees, who signed him to a $39.95 million, four-year contract before the 2005 season. He went 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts with New York in his first season, then was sidelined from June 27, 2005, until last month by shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries.
He made his first two starts this year, going 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA, but started feeling forearm soreness during his second outing, a win at Minnesota on April 9.
"I was of a mind that these are muscles he hasn't used for a while. It didn't seem to alarm him because he went out and pitched a couple more innings," Torre said. "So this really was a surprise to me."
Pavano cut short a bullpen session Wednesday in Texas, then scheduled an appointment with Andrews, who removed bone chips from his elbow in August 2000 and May 2006.
"When you take pictures of pitchers' elbows, if they've pitched for any period time, you're going to find flaws," Torre said. "It just goes with your profession."
During his long layoffs, Pavano was regularly ridiculed by New York media, and teammates lost confidence in him.
"There was no question there was grumbling in the clubhouse," Torre said, "but I felt in the spring when he went out there every time it was his turn, that that stuff was sort of on hold."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press