Craving help for their starting rotation, the Minnesota Twins have turned to Carl Pavano.
The Twins agreed Friday to send the Cleveland Indians a player to be identified later in exchange for Pavano, a one-time All-Star whose career derailed in New York during four injury-ruined seasons with the Yankees.
"He's certainly had a significant injury history over the last few years, but he has been healthy this year," Minnesota general manager Bill Smith said from Detroit, where the Twins were scheduled to play the first-place Tigers later Friday. "We've had good reports about him on and off the field, and we're hoping that he can provide some innings for us down the stretch."
The Twins began the day in third place in the AL Central, 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers.
"It's pretty exciting, a move up in the standings," said Pavano, who arrived at Comerica Park to join his new teammates before Minnesota took batting practice.
Francisco Liriano's starting spot has been in question after another poor performance on Wednesday that led to his 11th loss, tied for most in the league.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said that Pavano, given Torii Hunter's old number 48, would start against the Tigers on Saturday.
"He's been throwing the ball well recently, so we'll see," Garndenhire said. "Put him out there and let him go."
The 33-year-old Pavano will take the mound still trying to erase the embarrassment of those four infamously bad years in New York.
After an All-Star, 18-win season for Florida in 2004, the right-hander signed a four-year contract worth almost $40 million with the Yankees.
He won nine games during the entire length of that deal, making only 26 starts. Ridiculed often in city tabloids and by the franchise's proud fans, Pavano drew the ire of Yankees teammates, too. They questioned his desire and work ethic during his time on the disabled list, and he even picked up the derogatory nickname "American Idle."
Pavano mostly dealt with shoulder, back and elbow problems, but after signing an incentive-laden one-year contract with Cleveland he has at least gotten his durability back. He has gone 9-8 with a 5.37 ERA in 21 starts for the Indians, giving up 150 hits and 23 walks with 88 strikeouts in 125-plus innings.
"There were a number of years where I wasn't able to do that," Pavano said. "And that's frustrating for somebody who wants to go out there every fifth day and be a part of the team."
Indians' general manager Mark Shapiro praised Pavano's contribution to his team.
"Carl was an outstanding teammate and a hard worker," Shapiro said on a conference call. "It was a real tribute to him to have the number of quality starts that he did."
Pavano and Twins backup catcher Mike Redmond were teammates with the Florida Marlins when they won the World Series in 2003.
"He's pitched in some big games and pitched against some good teams," Redmond said. "He changes speeds, not a guy who's going to overpower you. ... He's smart."
Justin Masterson will take Pavano's place in the Indians' rotation.
A handful of rough starts stand out on his game log, but in his most recent outing for Cleveland last Sunday, Pavano gave up one run in eight innings to beat the Tigers for the third time this season. Pavano has pitched six or more innings in two-thirds of his appearances, and he hasn't thrown this many innings since 2004.
"It's kind of uncharted territory for him, but we'll see how it plays out," Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. "It's no mystery that our starters have struggled. We think this is an opportunity to add a guy who can hopefully help us out."
The Indians placed Pavano on waivers earlier in the week and the Twins claimed him. To make room for Pavano, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was optioned to Triple-A. Also, pitcher Boof Bonser was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Dickey did well in his long relief role until July. His ERA has soared from 2.36 to 4.62 over the last five weeks.