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Archive for Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yanks’ pitcher Pavano faces elbow surgery

May 20, 2006

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— Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano will need surgery for a bone chip above his right elbow, an injury that could finish his 2006 season before it ever started.

Pavano, who has not pitched in the major leagues since June 27 because of a variety of injuries, left a rehab start for Double-A Trenton after only nine pitches Wednesday because of forearm soreness. Tests Thursday revealed the latest injury, and Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., will operate next week.

Pavano had bone chips removed from his pitching elbow by Andrews on Aug. 22, 2000, and didn't pitch in the major leagues again until the following Aug. 15. Yankees manager Joe Torre said a timetable for Pavano's return in uncertain.

"They won't know until they get in there and see if that's all there is," Torre said. "It's not in the elbow, so that's got to be a plus."

In other injury news, catcher Jorge Posada left Friday night's Subway Series opener against the Mets after 11â2 innings with tightness in his upper back that prevented him from throwing to second. Posada, who is day to day, was hit hard Tuesday by the Texas Rangers' Mark Teixeira in a home plate collision.

Also, Bernie Williams, who received a rare left field start Friday, won't start today because of a tight buttocks muscle. Reliever Kyle Farnsworth exited after one inning in the 7-6 loss to the Mets because of lower back soreness. "I had it last year. I didn't miss any days with it. Just a lot of pain," he said.

Right fielder Gary Sheffield hit off a tee Friday for the first time since the Yankees put him on the disabled list May 9 with a bruised and sprained left wrist, an injury sustained when he collided with Toronto first baseman Shea Hillenbrand on April 29. Torre said Sheffield could start taking batting practice this weekend and return before the end of the month.

Outfielder Bubba Crosby, who strained his right hamstring during Thursday's 6-2 loss to Texas, was put on the 15-day disabled list Friday, and the Yankees purchased the contract of outfielder Mitch Jones from Triple-A Columbus. A four-time All-Star in the minors, the 28-year-old Jones has never played in the majors.

Andrews also will operate next week on reliever Tanyon Sturtze to repair a small tear in his right rotator cuff.

"I think it's unfair for us to count on him the rest of the year," Torre said.

Shawn Chacon, replaced by Aaron Small as the starter for Sunday night's series finale because of a welt just below the knee on the inside of his left leg, said he expects to take his next turn in the rotation after that.

Pavano, a 30-year-old right-hander, left the Florida Marlins to sign a $39.95 million, four-year contract with the Yankees after the 2004 season. He went 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA last season when rotator cuff tendinitis caused the Yankees to put him on the disabled list.

When Torre opened spring training on Feb. 15, the very first thing he announced was that Pavano had back discomfort and would not start throwing for several weeks.

When Pavano pitched in his first spring game on March 28, he fielded a slow grounder near the foul line from his first batter, Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu, and stumbled as he dove to first for the out. While Pavano completed the inning, he bruised his buttocks on the play, which sidelined him again.

He made three minor league rehab starts, but his arm felt tender after Wednesday's outing.

"We feel badly for him because he's worked so hard to get back, and this is just going to throw a monkey wrench into that," Torre said.

Pavano had been progressing before the latest setback.

"His stuff's electric. We never saw that any time last year," Torre said.

Desperate for outfield help, the Yanks have been talking with free agent Richard Hidalgo and plan to work him out shortly at their Tampa complex.

"Richard is definitely intrigued," Chris Leibel, one of Hidalgo's representatives, said.

Hidalgo, 30, signed a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles on Feb. 26 but spent just four days in camp before leaving to tend to his ill wife. He never returned. Hidalgo played in 88 games for the Texas Rangers last season.

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