14-year veteran starting pitcher Carl Pavano was let go this offseason after four seasons with the Minnesota Twins and is still in search of a job. But his current worries go beyond baseball -- "I'm just lucky to be alive," he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen this week.
After ramping up his workouts and free-agent negotiations with teams following the holidays, Pavano had a "freak accident" while shoveling snow at his Vermont home on Jan. 12, according to the report.
The 37-year-old slipped on ice and fell onto a shovel handle, which jammed into his midsection. Four days later, he felt "sudden wave of abdominal pain and nausea" -- he had lacerated his spleen.
By the time he finally had surgery to remove the spleen, on Jan. 19, doctors first had to remove 6 1/2 liters of blood from his chest cavity.
He said he lost 35 pounds in three weeks. At least he can laugh about it now. At 230 pounds, he's as trim as he was as a rookie, he said, but too weak to lift his kids, ages 3 and 4.
By Saturday night, Pavano's blood count had dropped dangerously low, and one of his lungs collapsed, he said. Alissa called her doctor in Florida, seeking another opinion, and he urged them to find a trauma center.
"He said I was on borrowed time," Pavano said. "So we went to Hartford Hospital. That's the No. 1 trauma center in the area."
Doctors there gave Pavano a blood transfusion and performed splenic embolization, blocking the blood supply to his spleen.
"I was hours away from going into cardiac arrest and probably wouldn't even be here," Pavano said.
Pavano, who became notorious in New York for spending so much time on the disabled list after signing with the Yankees, will have to wait for his incision to heal and then work for several weeks or even months to regain his strength, but is determined to pitch again. The 37-year-old owns a 108-107 career record and 4.39 ERA.