Sheffield has back spasms; Pavano headed to DL?

Updated: February 26, 2006, 5:01 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Gary Sheffield
Sheffield
Carl Pavano
Pavano

"I'm not banking on him Opening Day,'' Yankees 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 anytime 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 is also having back problems. He didn't work out Sunday because of back spasms.

Sheffield is not expected to miss more than a couple days. The back flared up after he took extra batting practice on 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 non-roster 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."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press