He has a bruised humerus bone and could have recovered in weeks. Now it appears his time with the Twins is over.
OAKLAND, CALIF. - Twins righthander Carl Pavano got a new diagnosis for his right shoulder Tuesday and a whole new frustration along with it.
New York specialist Dr. David Altchek said Pavano has a bruise on the humerus bone, an injury that likely would have recovered in a few weeks had he rested it. Instead, Pavano worked three months on rehabilitating what was believed to be a strained shoulder capsule.
Now it's too late for rest, so Pavano's season is over. Since he's a free agent after the season, his career with the Twins could be over, too.
"It is what it is," Pavano said during a telephone interview. "You have an injury. You do the work to come back and it didn't happen. You've got to move on and get ready for another day. That's where I'm at."
The diagnosis came after Pavano had another MRI exam in New York. Pavano had similar exams with the Twins this season, but the bruise went undetected in those.
Despite being asked a few times if he was upset with the way his injury was handled by the club, Pavano would not point fingers. He said that something similar happened in 2005 when he was with the Yankees. He battled tendinitis in his shoulder that year, and a bruise on the same bone popped up late in the season.
"We put in the work to get it right," he said of the Twins training staff. "Me and the staff, and this was the outcome. Because it didn't go your way doesn't mean you can change everything."
Pavano pitched until June 1, going 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA and watching his fastball average 86.8 miles an hour, according to www.fangraphs.com. He didn't travel with the team between a couple of starts in May so he could undergo deep tissue massages and other therapy. He was willing to pitch through the discomfort if he also improved, but that improvement was minimal and he landed on the disabled list on June 4 with a diagnosis of right rotator cuff weakness.
He took his rehab to Fort Myers in late July and started pitching this month for Class A Fort Myers, giving up one run in five innings over two starts.
Altchek saw every MRI the Twins did on Pavano during the season and concurred with their diagnosis. He even remarked in May that he noticed Pavano's shoulder gaining strength.
Twins Assistant General Manager Rob Antony admitted to being surprised by the new diagnosis on Tuesday.
"All along our doctors and Altchek have conferred on everything," Antony said. "To me, I'm not sure how many more medical opinions you can get on this guy, or more tests done or whatever, than we did."
Pavano is making $8.5 million this season in the second year of a two-year, $16.5 million deal. After going 17-11 for the club in 2010 he dipped to 9-13 last season and has spent most of this season in the trainer's room.
A lot of good things happened to him here, but his career with the Twins is not ending well.
"You put in the work to make it strong and get it going, but it hasn't worked out," he said. "You work to accomplish something and I look back at my season, numberswise and teamwise, and I really wasn't there much at all. That is not good."
One player trying to get back on the field this season is outfielder Denard Span, who has now missed eight games with a sore clavicle and neck suffered while trying to make a falling catch against the Rays on Aug. 12.
Span had an MRI of his neck on Monday and was supposed to have one of his clavicle on Tuesday -- but he couldn't go through with it.
Span revealed that he's claustrophobic and sometimes isn't comfortable in the close quarters of the MRI machine.
"I don't know what else to say," Span said. "It's embarrassing that I couldn't get it done today, but bottom line, I stayed there for an hour trying to get it done. Just couldn't do it, man. I tried my best. When they strapped me in there and told me I couldn't move for 35 minutes, I just couldn't do it."
Span did take batting practice before Tuesday's game and is feeling better. The Twins are trying to be patient but might have to consider placing him on the disabled list if he needs several more days to recover.
Span said if he needs to have another MRI he'll find a way to do it. He's not the first player to be claustrophobic -- just one of the few to admit it.
"I didn't have enough Valium," he said.