Coming to the Cleveland Indians has been great for me. Anytime you're pitching for people who have confidence in you, it helps.
The Indians told me right away I would be their No. 3 starter, so I haven't been in a position of having to look over my shoulder. I've been around for a while, and I know it takes me about six weeks to get ready for the season. I've never been a guy who comes into camp with all his bullets. So it's helped to know that I had time to prepare myself. I was able to focus on getting things right, and I was able to work on some things.
The tough part about being away from the mound for a long time is that you don't have the repetitions you need to keep a strong feel for your mechanics. My instincts and an understanding of what I wanted to do on the mound were all there, but getting my mind and body on the same page has taken a little longer.
That's all coming back now. Obviously, it's helped to be healthy and to have had the opportunity to work between my starts without worrying about injuries. I've been able to do all the work I need this spring, which will make me stronger in the long run.
It's been a building process. My return last year helped get me to the point where I could have a more typical offseason. Those last six or seven starts on my rehab stint and another seven starts with the Yankees really helped. I got to the point where I thought my stuff was average, but I knew I was getting better. It was tough not to have a Spring Training to build off last year, but I felt like I was getting back to where I should be.
My elbow felt good but my stamina wasn't great, because I hadn't pitched in a while. I'd get to 75 or 80 pitches, and I was getting tired. But, overall, I was happy. I was able to execute pitches and make pitches when I needed to. I wasn't very dominant but felt like I could get big outs when I needed to. It was just nice to be able to go out and win again.
Those starts, in turn, gave me confidence going into the offseason. I was able to get back to my regular workouts. In recent years, I was going three or four days a week to a therapist, trying to get over something. Then once you get past that hurdle, the season comes up pretty quick on you. Then sometimes the offseason isn't enough time to get those injuries behind you.
This past offseason, I took the month of October off, which I hadn't done in the past three or four years. That helped refresh my mind and my body. After that, I was able to get after it pretty aggressively and come into Spring Training with a good base and build from there. I haven't been able to do that in a while, and now I feel like having a more normal approach has really benefited me.
Once I got to camp, it was all about getting repetitions and building a routine. Now every time I'm able to get on the mound and pitch in games, I'm building. Each start I make is a progression. With the amount of time I've missed, it's really important for me to build up starts over a period of weeks and months.
I feel like my arm strength is coming along and my location has been good. I've never been a guy who's had great velocity coming out of Spring Training or in the first part of the year. I've always gotten stronger as the year's gone along. The more I throw, the better I get. Once I get comfortable and get my mechanics where I want, then I can start adding to my pitches.
Carl Pavano, 33, has a 66-66 record and 4.32 ERA over 10 seasons in the Major Leagues. The 6-foot-5 right-hander joined the Indians this offseason after four injury-filled seasons with the Yankees and is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Thursday against the Rangers. His best season came in 2004 when he went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for the Marlins.
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