In another example of the shortcomings the Minnesota Twins have in diagnosing injuries, the news came on Tuesday that starting pitcher Carl Pavano will be shut down for the rest of the season after an MRI revealed a bruise on the humerus bone in his right shoulder. The shoulder has bothered Pavano since spring training, and rest alone will heal the issue.
Pavano last pitched for the Twins on June 1 against the Cleveland Indians, and the 36-year old decided not to make a rehab start for Single-A Fort Myers so he could be examined on Tuesday. His velocity was down from normal during spring training right on into the early part of the season, and Twins’ team doctors eventually diagnosed him with a strained shoulder capsule. The diminished velocity showed in Pavano’s results, as he went 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts (63 innings) with 33 strikeouts and eight walks, though he did pitch at least six innings in eight of those outings.
Pavano is in the final season of a two-year, $16.5 million contract, so his career with the Twins is most likely over unless he takes significantly less money on a one-year deal as he will turn 37 in January. He stood out among an injury-riddled starting rotation during his two full seasons in Minnesota in 2010 and 2011, making 65 combined starts (32 in 2010, 33 in 2011) and pitching at least 220 innings each season along with 10 complete games in that span. He expressed some frustration that his shoulder issue took essentially three months to diagnose, and you could argue longer than that due to his velocity issues in March, so Pavano may have little interest in returning to the Twins under any circumstance.
Pavano’s $8.5 million salary from this season can definitely be better allocated elsewhere for 2013, and at his age he probably wants to play for a team much closer to contention than the Twins are likely to be next season.
But this seems to be another miscalculation or misdiagnosis of a player’s injury by the Twins’ medical staff, and it seems Pavano could have contributed more this season if he was properly diagnosed and rested early in the season. There a lot of assumptions in there, and it’s possible Pavano developed the shoulder bruise at a later stage than spring training, but with the issues he had over the first two months you have to think he was examined regularly and if that was the case the Twins’ doctors simply missed a significant issue that derailed Pavano’s 2012 season.