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Twins bolster rotation, add Pavano

Twins bolster rotation, add Pavano

DETROIT -- The Twins have been searching for ways to help their struggling rotation, and on Friday they were able to add a veteran arm to that starting staff.

Minnesota acquired right-hander Carl Pavano from the Indians in exchange for a player to be named. Twins general manager Bill Smith said the club had put in a claim on the pitcher and the two sides were able to agree on a deal after the Twins were awarded the claim.

Pavano, 33, went 9-8 with a 5.37 ERA in 21 starts for Cleveland this season. It's been a season of resurgence for Pavano, who had made just 26 starts over four injury-plagued seasons spent with the Yankees. The 10-year veteran pitcher has weathered some ups and downs on the mound, but he's provided durability to the Indians since signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract with them this past January.

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"He certainly has a significant injury history in the last few years but he has been healthy this year," Smith said. "Cleveland did a good job getting him at the start of the year and he's been having a strong season for them. Hopefully the time is right for him to come over and contribute some quality starts and innings to us over the final stretch of the season."

The Twins entered their series on Friday night against the Tigers trailing Detroit by 4 1/2 games in the American League Central race.

While the Twins acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the A's prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the club was unable to address its need for pitching at that time. Smith said the club would continue to scour the waiver wire for pitching help.

The urgency for another starter has grown in recent weeks. Kevin Slowey underwent season-ending surgery on his right wrist earlier this week, decreasing the club's depth. Francisco Liriano's 4-11 record and 5.63 ERA have caused the club to debate his future in the rotation, while Glen Perkins has also endured his share of troubles, posting a 6-7 record with a 5.95 ERA.

Perkins' next start had been scheduled for Saturday vs. the Tigers, but Pavano has been slotted to make that start instead.

"That's his day to pitch," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Pavano. "So we'll go ahead and stick him right in there."

Pavano joined the team at Comerica Park on Friday afternoon, driving up from Cleveland after learning the news of the trade from Indians general manager Mark Shapiro.

"It's exciting," said Pavano, who will wear Torii Hunter's old No. 48. "To move up in the standings, that's always a plus, and with some great guys that are ready to play and make a push to October. This time of year, that's what we're aiming for."

For Pavano, this season has been an opportunity to put many of the bad memories from his time in New York behind him.

After earning All-Star honors in 2004 while going 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for the Marlins, he signed a four-year contract worth nearly $40 million with the Yankees. But he won just nine games during the entire length of that deal -- the total number of games he's already won this season -- while making only the 26 starts due to numerous stints on the disabled list.

Pavano's lack of time on the mound over his four years with the Yankees earned him ridicule from both fans and the media. Toward the end of his time there, Pavano's teammates even began to publicly question the pitcher's work ethic and his desire to pitch.

"Obviously I was under that shadow for a little while," Pavano said. "Questions are still coming about it. It brings me back to that place, which wasn't a fun time for me.

"I was able to put a lot of that behind me. I wasn't able to control all the things that went over, as much control as I would like to have had. There is nothing really to hold a grudge. I got another opportunity to go out there and do something I love. To be constantly looking back on that is not going to do me or my career any good. So I was able to go and get a fresh start somewhere else. That's all I really asked for."

Twins catcher Mike Redmond was Pavano's teammate in Florida from 2002-04 and said that the descriptions of Pavano from his time in New York are not at all what he saw when they played together.

"I tell people all the time that this guy was a gamer," Redmond said. "He was probably the most consistent pitcher down in Florida. He took the ball every start and gave us a chance to win. "

During his comeback with the Indians, Pavano has proven once again to be an innings-eater. He's pitched six or more innings in 14 of his 21 starts, and seven times, he's lasted at least seven innings. His 125 2/3 innings this season would rank him third among Twins starters.

"There were a number of years I wasn't able to do that," Pavano said. "That's frustrating for someone that wants to go out there every fifth day and compete and be a part of the team. I wasn't able to do that. But I have been able to do that this year, and I'm going to continue doing that here with opportunity in Minnesota."

The Twins are set to pay Pavano the remainder of his $1.5 million contract, close to $500,000. They also will responsible for a pro-rated portion of the incentives he could still earn.

To make room for Pavano on the 25-man roster, the Twins have optioned knuckleball reliever R.A. Dickey to Triple-A Rochester and Boof Bonser was moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Dickey was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 35 appearances (one start) for the Twins this season. He had been a solid relief option early in the season, but struggled of late, posting a 9.30 ERA in 12 appearances since the start of July.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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