Pavano hears it from Yankees fans
Twins righty looking to hand it to former team in Game 3
NEW YORK -- The frenzied crowd of 49,464 at Yankee Stadium for Wednesday's American League Division Series opener against the Twins got itself prepared for the night ahead before the first pitch was even thrown.
And that vociferous warmup was courtesy of Carl Pavano's pregame introduction as part of Minnesota's roster. The right-hander is not exactly the most popular pitcher among the Bronx faithful, not after signing a four-year, $39.5 million free-agent deal with the Yankees in 2004 and then posting a 9-8 combined record over four injury-riddled seasons.
Pavano could do nothing but smile and laugh a little as he ran out to line up along the third-base line, with the boos cascading down.
"I went through that already," said Pavano of the negative reaction, after the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Twins. "I was here Opening Day with Cleveland, and I got hammered a lot worse than that.
"Hey, I don't blame them. I would boo me, too, for the four years I spent here. Nobody is more disappointed in the lack of production that I had when I was there than me. They are entitled to have a little fun with it, aren't they?"
There will be no chance for Pavano to exact any sort of revenge on the Yankee Stadium faithful, as he will pitch in Game 3 at the Metrodome on Sunday night. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier on Wednesday that the Game 3 starter was undecided, with the choice to made between Pavano and Scott Baker, but pitching coach Rick Anderson made it clear that Pavano was getting the call.
Even without the opportunity to start in New York, Pavano remains hopeful that his effort will hold some sort of impact in shutting down the powerful Yankees. He featured a 1.00 ERA in two games pitched for the Florida Marlins in their World Series victory over the Yankees in 2003, and he'd like to have that same opportunity again in '09.
On Wednesday, though, Pavano chuckled at the jeers and served admirably in his role as a veteran influence on the Minnesota pitching staff. It was Pavano who advised rookie Brian Duensing on what to expect before his first playoff start, from the atmosphere to handling the media. And it was Pavano who quickly moved from his Yankees clipping to the gritty starting performance turned in by the southpaw.
"I'm awful proud of him," said Pavano of Duensing. "His mound presence was unflappable, and he did everything he could to prepare for the start.
"He'll get another chance, because he has a long career ahead of him. He fell a little short tonight, but he's a competitor and a professional."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.