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Two Tribe members look to hit the comeback trail

By sstorm Published: January 12, 2009

I like this story by the Canton Rep's Josh Weir on possible Comeback-Player-of-the-Year candidates - including two Indians in newcomer and right-handed pitcher Carl Pavano and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez. Of course, designated hitter Travis Hafner could have easily made the list as well.

Around baseball: Several players hope to recapture old magic in new locations

Everyone loves a redemption story, whatever the walk of life. A person falls, gets back up and overcomes the obstacle to recapture past glory.

Cliff Lee exemplified the ability in a baseball sense last season, going from Indians postseason castoff in 2007 to the American League Cy Young in 2008.

Of course, predicting this kind of turnaround can be next to impossible. That doesn’t mean we can’t try.

HERE ARE THE FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD REMAKE SOME OLD MAGIC

Brad Penny

The big Oklahoman made only 17 starts in 2008 thanks to shoulder problems, going 6-9 with a 6.28 ERA for the Dodgers. Now he’s in Boston.

Pitching in the American League East won’t be easy, but with the Red Sox offense and a quality bullpen to back him up, Penny could thrive. Don’t forget, he won 32 combined games in 2006-07 — both All-Star seasons — sporting a 3.03 ERA in ’07. Plus, he’s only 30 years old.

Carl Pavano

A great candidate resides in the same clubhouse as Lee. Pavano comes to the Tribe after four disappointing, injury-filled years with the Yankees.

The last time the 33-year-old right-hander was relevant as a player was his 2004 All-Star season with the Marlins, when he went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA. Can he rediscover his mojo in low-pressure Cleveland?

“I’m excited,” he said. “I still think I’m at an age where I’m not on the decline of my career. I feel like I’m at the strongest point of my career now, mentally and physically.”

The Indians were able to cash in on Kevin Millwood in 2005, when he led the AL in ERA (2.96).

Jason Giambi

Maybe a guy who hits 32 home runs and drives in 96 runs can’t really be considered a comeback kid the next year, especially when he’s 38, but it will be interesting to see what this free spirit does back in Oakland after seven years with the Yankees.

As he told Oakland reporters, “I didn’t come here just to come back and be the prom queen again and ride through the floats.”

Giambi, who joins new acquisition Matt Holliday in the middle of Oakland’s order, was the 2000 AL MVP with the A’s.

Khalil Greene

A former Golden Spikes Award winner, it seems like everyone keeps waiting for this shortstop’s star to shine.

He went the other way for San Diego in 2008, batting only .213 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs before a broken hand — suffered when he punched a storage box — ended his season in July.

Traded to the Cardinals in the offseason, maybe a change in scenery will do him some good.

Jeremy Bonderman

Bonderman’s 2008 season was cut short because of surgery in June to correct a condition that caused a blood clot in his pitching arm.

With the problem behind him and still only 26, the Tigers right-hander would appear to be entering his prime. He’s already nearing 1,000 career innings.

OTHER NAMES TO CONSIDER

Joe Crede
Back problems limited him to 97 games in 2008.

Freddy Garcia
Shoulder problems basically destroyed his past two seasons.

Orlando Hudson
The O-Dog’s 2008 season was cut short because of a wrist injury.

Andruw Jones
He really can’t be that bad, can he?

Paul Konerko
Put up his worst numbers since 2003 last season.

Victor Martinez
The Tribe missed his bat and presence last season.

Mark Mulder
Made four starts during the past two seasons.

Jason Schmidt
Just can’t get healthy.

John Smoltz
No one should ever doubt this guy.

Dontrelle Willis
Will this guy ever find it again?

Barry Zito
The Giants are hoping for a little return on their $126 million investment.

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