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Yanks' rotation problems over: Pavano to be the savior next season

Bob Klapsch of The Bergen Record wrote this piece a few days ago, but I didn't get a chance to post it until now.

It's definitely worth a laugh considering it's about Carl Pavano's continuous 24-months of rehab since he signed his contract with the Yankees, but also disturbing at the same time because it illustrates just how desperate the team is for starting pitching.

NAPLES, Fla. -- The Yankees still haven't figured out how or why the Red Sox could write a $51 million check for Daisuke Matsuzaka, but they're certain of this much: without the Japanese star, the starting rotation is barren enough to make Carl Pavano relevant again.

Crazy, isn't it. The pitcher who's been invisible for two years (while pocketing $20 million) is being touted by club officials as the rediscovered secret weapon. Pavano has a new attitude, the Yankees say, a new workout regimen, a new agent, all of which is supposed to make fans (and teammates) forget he's been the greatest financial disaster in the club's history.

Whether Pavano can ever restore his reputation remains to be seen. One major league executive said this week at the general managers' meetings, "For whatever reason, I don't think [Pavano] can or wants to pitch in the American League."

That's the industry's consensus. But, like putting stale milk in the fridge and hoping it's fresh in the morning, the Yankees are trying once again to make Pavano whole. The rebirth began after the right-hander hooked up with agent Gregg Clifton, who represents some of baseball's finest citizens, including Tom Glavine.

Clifton took Pavano on as a client, fully aware of the mistakes and transgressions of the past. He knows the right-hander has a reputation for moodiness and aloofness -- not to mention his inexplicable penchant for getting hurt.

And then there's the commission Pavano is refusing to pay his former agent, Scott Shapiro, after George Steinbrenner shaved $50,000 off the four-year, $40 million just before the two sides agreed to the deal.

The matter is now in arbitration, which logically would scare off any new representative. But Clifton has known Pavano since he was a teenager and says, "I believe everyone deserves a second chance."

It was Clifton's idea to send Pavano to a sports rehab facility in Phoenix to learn why he's been hurt so often. For the last month, the pitcher has been working for four hours a day with trainer Brett Fischer, who discovered that Pavano suffered from hip dysfunction that made one of his legs an inch shorter than the other.

Through intense flexibility exercises, Pavano's legs are now equal in length. And that's allowed Fischer to begin the secondary task of bolstering Pavano's core muscles.

These are brutally difficult drills, and Fischer said, "Carl walks out of here every day dripping in sweat. He's totally into it." As any rehab patient will attest, repairing the body is only as successful as the willingness to suffer through it.

Maybe it's guilt or embarrassment that motivates Pavano. He's certainly used up whatever reservoir of good will that accompanied him to New York in 2005, when he was among the market's most sought-after free agents.

For more slapstick comedy, read the rest here.