Pavano could start season on DL


New York Yankees starter Carl Pavano's sore back could land him on the disabled list to start the season.

"I'm not banking on him Opening Day," manager Joe Torre said. "There's no rush even right there to have him ready Opening Day. The thing I think is important is he probably feels better than he did any time last year."

Pavano missed the second half of last season because of a shoulder injury and finished 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts. His back has bothered him since spring training last year.

"It's progressing," Pavano said. "It feels a lot better. I want to make sure there's no setbacks after what I went through last year."

Right fielder Gary Sheffield also is having back problems. He didn't work out yesterday because of back spasms.

Sheffield is not expected to miss more than a couple of days. The back flared up after he took extra batting practice Saturday.

"I took more swings than usual," Sheffield said. "I've had this before. This is what you get when you overdo it too early. It's just real tight. It will be fine."

Likely Opening Day starter Randy Johnson threw 68 pitches in his second batting practice session, breaking the bat of new center fielder Johnny Damon.

"I'm throwing everything that I throw right now," Johnson said. "The more I throw it, the more effective it will be. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape."

Johnson could make his spring training debut Friday or Saturday.

Torre has been impressed with left-hander Al Leiter, who opted not to retire during the offseason and is in camp as a nonroster player.

"What I've seen so far, I like him," Torre said. "When you look at it, there's no room. But if somebody makes a case, you've got to figure something out. That's the way I look at it."

Nationals -- Pitcher Brian Lawrence, who hoped to break into the starting rotation after being traded to Washington in the offseason, instead will miss four to eight months after successful right shoulder surgery. The initial diagnosis had Lawrence missing three to six months, but after doctors went in to repair what was thought to be a torn labrum, they found extensive tears to both the labrum and rotator cuff.

Pirates -- Pitcher Kip Wells has a blood clot close to his right arm, and his season is in jeopardy. General manager Dave Littlefield described the clot as a "100 percent blockage" of an artery under the collarbone, the primary vessel that carries blood from the chest to the arms. Wells, 28, told the team he still must determine whether he wants to get a second opinion before having surgery, a decision he is expected to make within two days. If Wells has surgery, he likely would miss five to eight months. Wells' condition was detected late last week at spring training and was formally diagnosed Saturday in St. Louis by Dr. Robert Thompson, a vascular surgeon at Washington University. Thompson conducted an angiogram, a procedure that involves the insertion of a catheter in the groin, to confirm his initial tests.

Astros -- Roger Clemens will pitch to minor leaguers at the team's spring training camp today. Clemens, 43, wants to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, then decide whether to retire or play a 23rd season, said Koby Clemens, his oldest son and a third baseman in the Astros' farm system.

Giants -- Barry Bonds could play his first spring training game in two years against the Brewers, although San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said he doesn't know whether he'd use the slugger as an outfielder or a designated hitter. Alou said that it is unlikely that Bonds would travel to Phoenix on Thursday to play the exhibition opener against Milwaukee but probably would play the next day at Scottsdale Stadium.

White Sox -- Angry and disgusted with the latest comments from former Chicago slugger Frank Thomas, general manager Kenny Williams fired back, calling the two-time Most Valuable Player "an idiot." "He's selfish. That's why we don't miss him," Williams said, responding to a Thomas interview that appeared in The Daily Southtown, a newspaper in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill. Since signing with the A's last month, Thomas has made it clear that he didn't appreciate the way his 16-year run with the White Sox ended, saying that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf didn't call him to tell him he wasn't coming back.

Royals -- Zack Greinke left camp and there are no indications when he might return. Club officials said Greinke had gone back to his home in Orlando, Fla. The 22-year-old right-hander, a first-round draft pick in 2002, was 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA in 33 starts last season. "He's gone home for personal matters," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "That's all I can say about it."

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