Wang to start season on DL

Updated: March 24, 2007, 7:24 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- With Chien-Ming Wang headed to the disabled list, Carl Pavano could end up being the New York Yankees' opening-day starter.

Wang, a 19-game winner last year and runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award, will begin the season on the DL with a right hamstring injury. He is expected to be sidelined at least a month.

Andy Pettitte has been bothered by back spasms and the Yankees don't want to rearrange Mike Mussina's schedule late in spring training, so the oft-injured Pavano appears to be the most likely candidate to pitch April 2 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Yankee Stadium.

It would be his first major league outing since June 2005.

"It's one game," manager Joe Torre said Saturday. "To me, if a guy is going to pitch at Yankee Stadium, whether it's Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, there's going to be a lot of people there. It's opening day, but there are 161 other games. It's certainly an important game, but so are the other ones."

Torre said the opening-day assignment would probably go to Pavano, Kei Igawa or Jeff Karstens.

Pavano is scheduled to start a spring training game Tuesday, which lines him up to face the Devil Rays with only one extra day off. Igawa and Karstens would both require more complicated schedule adjustments in order to be ready for the season opener.

Wang will be placed on the disabled list when the Yankees break camp next weekend. He will remain at the team's spring training complex for rehabilitation.

"You're talking late April," general manager Brian Cashman said. "You don't want stuff like that to happen, but unfortunately it does happen. When they happen, you handle it."

Wang was hurt while sprinting Friday.

"I feel one pop, pull," he said. "Very sad. I hope it gets better."

Cashman said there are no plans to look outside the organization to fill Wang's roster spot. Candidates include Karstens and Darrell Rasner.

"We have depth. We have choices," Cashman said. "It's a short-term issue that you're dealing with. Somebody else will get an opportunity."

Pavano hasn't pitched in the majors since June 27, 2005. The right-hander has made four appearances this spring, going 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA.

Pettitte has resumed throwing after being sidelined Monday by back spasms. Torre said the left-hander won't pitch again until Thursday or Friday, which takes him out of the mix for opening day.

"We're not really thinking that can happen," Torre said.

But Cashman said he expects Pettitte to be ready for the first series of the season.

"I know every day he's feeling better," Cashman said. "Obviously, I'd like to see him back on a mound throwing well. All in due time."

Mussina pitched six innings Saturday against Toronto. Torre said the right-hander will not have his schedule changed, meaning his final spring outing will be Thursday or Friday.

"He could do it, but you'd have to pitch him on short rest one place or the other and that's something we certainly don't want to do," Torre said.

The Yankees will hold a staff meeting Monday, at which time the rotation should be finalized.

"We'll have something for you after that," Torre said.

The Yankees also said right-hander Jose Veras is expected to be out two to three months after having bone chips removed from his right elbow on Thursday.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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