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Pavano in line to open Target Field

Pavano in line to open Target Field

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Carl Pavano already has a spot in the history books as being one of the starting pitchers in the final game played in Montreal's Olympic Stadium back in 2004.

Now he's expected to add another special distinction to his resume -- starting the first home opener at Target Field.

Pavano is currently slotted into the No. 3 spot in the Twins rotation behind Scott Baker, who will start the club's regular season opener in Anaheim on April 5, and Nick Blackburn. So, weather permitting, Pavano would be in line to be the starter for the April 12 home opener against the Red Sox.

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"I'm excited," Pavano said. "It's truly an honor. The energy from the fans and the rich tradition of sports in Minnesota, specifically baseball, it's going to be a great experience. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, there's a lot still to do. But it's going to be exciting."

Pavano started against the Royals on Sunday, Oct. 4 last season, which was supposed to be the final regular season game at the Metrodome before the Twins and Tigers needed a one-game tiebreaker to decide the American League Central champion.

This will be the first time that Pavano's ever opened a ballpark, although he was Cleveland's starter the fourth game of the opening series at Yankee Stadium last season. There is certainly a lot of anticipation surrounding Target Field's opener, as it will mark the first outdoor Twins game in Minnesota in nearly 29 years.

"The bottom line is once the game starts, all that stuff is really irrelevant," said Pavano, who went 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 12 starts after being acquired by the Twins last August. "It's about going out there like any other game once you get between the lines. But when I reflect upon it, it's obviously going to be an exciting part of my career. There is only going to be one first game at Target Field and I get to start it. That's pretty cool."

Pavano got a chance to tour the new ballpark with his teammates during TwinsFest in January and was impressed by what he saw.

"The stadium was amazing," Pavano said. "It's obviously state of the art -- the woods, the colors, the stone -- all the elements that they used. It's totally different than the Metrodome. It's the new modern park. But it's a lot roomier obviously. Our clubhouse is four times bigger than the old one. All the amenities are unbelievable, from the cage indoor to the indoor mounds. We're not sharing it with anyone. We can call it our own.

"But I think [manager Ron Gardenhire] said it best when we were at TwinsFest, 'We go from having turf stains on our pants to grass stains now.' It's exciting."

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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