Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure and Pain


Carl Pavano recently revealed to the NY Yankees that he had been in a car accident. He actually suffered a couple of broken ribs in the accident and had it not been for the lingering pain, he wouldn't have told them about the incident at all. In fact he pitched effectively for one the Yankees minor league teams the same night of the accident. This is latest in a series of setbacks for Pavano. He was signed for $40 million for four years in the offseason two years ago. He has given the Yankees 17 starts at the Major League level for his $10 million a year salary. His injuries have ranged from bone chips to a bruised butt. The question becomes whether he even wants to pitch in NY anymore. He was actually out for a year without even having surgery. Octavio Dotel, who is currently pitching for the Yankees, had Tommy John surgery after Pavano went on the DL last year and has recovered enough to pitch again in the Majors.

Baseball players almost always play with some pain. The daily grind of the season usually produces more than a few bumps and bruises along the way. Players have to learn to tell the difference between being hurt and being injured. Johnny Damon has played most of the season with a broken bone in his foot. Jorge Posada gets hit by foul balls almost every time he catches. Both players and a host of others could have asked for time off to heal, but for the most part, they don't. Pitchers almost always feel some discomfort in their arms during the season. Pitching is not a natural motion and the force exerted with each pitch is extraordinary. The pressures applied to the elbow, wrist and shoulder are going to cause some discomfort over time. After games, pitchers arms are wrapped in ice for a reason. I won't say that it's unprecedented, but I have certainly never heard of a pitcher missing more than a year without having some type of surgery. The myriad of injuries that have seemed to plague Carl Pavano become more and more suspicious as they continue to pile up.

Back pain, elbow pain, butt pain, shoulder pain, Pavano is starting to sound like someone who is looking for a reason not to pitch. I guess that's fine when you have a guaranteed $40 million coming your way. I wonder how quickly he would have been back out on the mound if his contract wasn't guaranteed. The NFL doesn't guarantee contracts because of the violent nature of the sport. Baseball players can sit back and collect their salaries even if they don't play as long as they are in rehab from an injury. Pavano has lost all credibility with the fans at this point. He is in an almost no-win situation. When he finally does decide that he can pitch, the fans are going to be very unforgiving. He must be perfect in order to win them over and that is just not possible. He is going to be subject to the harshest criticism from the public. It won't be on the level of Arod because he will only pitch once a week, but when he's out there, it's not going to be pretty. Although the market for an oft injured pitcher who makes $10 million a season is going to be fairly thin, I don't think that Yankees have much choice but to pursue a trade in the off-season. Cashman has worked miracles before and I certainly hope that he can pull another one off here. Carl Pavano looks like the second coming of Ed Whitson (although without the porn star mustache), whose name is synonymous with athletes that couldn't handle the pressure of New York.

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