Carl Pavano said his parting with the Twins this offseason was a mutual decision. They wanted to move in a different direction, and so did he.

After the holidays, the free-agent righthander was cranking up his workout regimen and negotiating with other teams.

Then, on Jan. 12, he had a freak accident while shoveling snow at his Vermont home. After a harrowing ordeal, Pavano knows he won't be pitching anytime soon.

"I'm just lucky to be alive," Pavano said in a phone interview this week.

Pavano, 37, said he jammed his midsection on a shovel handle and didn't realize he had lacerated his spleen until four days later. 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.

Yankees fans still ridicule Pavano for all the injuries he had in his four-year stint in New York, but he resurrected his career with the Twins, helping lead them to the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. He still has fond memories from the Twin Cities, and who could relate to a shovel incident better than a Minnesotan?

"Exactly," he said. "In Twins Territory, they understand what I did."

On Jan. 12, a Saturday, Pavano and his wife, Alissa, had family visiting. There had been a recent dusting of snow, and that morning, the 6-5 Pavano went to shovel the path leading to the front door and slipped on some ice as he went down the steps. He fell right on the handle.

"It knocked the wind out of me," he said. "I didn't think anything of it that weekend. We were out on snowmobiles and sleds with the kids. We were building snowmen."

Two days later, Pavano went through a full workout. Then, he and Alissa drove to Westchester, N.Y., where they had planned to visit friends and look at houses.