CLEVELAND -- The concept of "coach's son" and all the supposed perks that come with it were lost on Carl Pavano. His father, Carmen, coached his Little League team when he was growing up in New Britain, Conn. But that didn't mean Carl got any preferential treatment.
"He was hard on me," Carl remembered. "I didn't get away with much." Pavano's not complaining, for he credits his father with instilling in him a sense of professionalism that he tries to carry with him to this very day. "You understand it now, as you get older," Pavano said. "How your teammates perceive you getting treated is how they're going to act. They saw that he was a little tough on me, and that set a good example. It set a tone for the rest of the team." With his performance in his comeback 2009 season with the Indians, Pavano is showing his new team he was worth the risk and investment they made in him over the winter. For the most part, he's been a solid contributor to the rotation, and he's erasing the memories from his four injury plagued and drama-filled years with the Yankees. When the 33-year-old Pavano thinks about those four years, he doesn't just remember the way he became the New York media's whipping boy. He also remembers a father's love and support. "He's very rational, he thinks things through," Pavano said of his dad. "He doesn't overreact. He's very straightforward. He's a good man. He's a guy that you want on your side. He's got great qualities about him. He's very strong." Pavano found himself leaning on that strength quite a bit. Carmen and his wife, Ann Marie, still live in Connecticut, about an hour and a half away from the Bronx. So when Pavano was dealing with distractions, he didn't have to look far to find a sounding board. "These last four years were not just tough on me but also tough on my family," he said. "They went through it with me. Without them there, it probably would have been a lot tougher. When you have your family to fall back on, you realize what's really important in life." Baseball has been an important part of Pavano's life virtually since birth, and he has his dad to thank for introducing him to the sport. Carmen ran a garment business for many years, and up until recently, owned a dry-cleaning business. But when Carl was growing up, Carmen always found time to coach. "I knew he had a lot of talent," Carmen said of his son. "I coached him through Little League and taught him the fundamentals. He had a love for the game." And Pavano had respect for his father as a coach. But he wasn't afraid to voice his displeasure from time to time. "There were times when he didn't like a decision I made," Carmen said. "He wouldn't let me know during the game, but afterward he would say something." Pavano smiles when he talks about his dad not going easy on him. You could call it a precedent to the New York media's treatment. "No kidding, right?" Pavano said. "I had been through it already!" Pavano can laugh about it all now, because his New York nightmare is behind him. Though he's currently dealing with some mild shoulder soreness, the way he's pitched this season has opened up some eyes. Carmen, 63, also believed his son would get back to this point, once the major injuries stopped getting in his way. "I'm very proud and very happy for him," Carmen said. "Family was on his side, but very few people were on his side. It's not easy when you know what you can do and nobody wants to believe that." As Father's Day dawns, Carl is thankful to have always had his dad's support through the tough times, and he hopes to be a similar ray of light in the life of his own son, Anthony, who was born last November. "There are definitely things I've learned from my father that I'll pass on to him," Pavano said. "Hopefully I can handle situations as well as my father was able to."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.