Notes: Womack back in center

Notes: Womack back in center

NEW YORK -- The Yankees gave Tony Womack the start in center field on Friday night, taking another look at the veteran infielder-turned-outfielder.

Womack is one of three players currently on the Yankees' roster who could see time in center, joining Bernie Williams and Bubba Crosby. And according to general manager Brian Cashman, it doesn't look as if any new names will be added to that mix before Sunday's trade deadline.

"It's probably unrealistic. I'll leave it at that," Cashman said of the center-field market. "It's something we're looking at. If I can do something, it would be great. I'm not sure I'll be able to."

Seattle's Randy Winn and Colorado's Eric Byrnes are among the few names being floated around, but neither seems to be an appealing option for the Yankees. Cashman said that the lack of quality center fielders on the market, combined with the asking price of some teams, has made it a tough time to look for a center fielder.

"It's a tough position to fill," Cashman said.

Womack hadn't started a game since July 5, and he had just two at-bats since the All-Star break. He has been used primarily as a pinch-runner, but manager Joe Torre said that he wants to see if he can get the veteran in some kind of groove at the plate.

"I told him yesterday before we left here, 'You'll be out in center field tomorrow, so let's see if we can get something going,' " Torre said. "We only have four guys on the bench, so we want to be able to utilize all of them."

Womack was hitting .241 with no homers, 12 RBIs and 20 stolen bases entering Friday, having started the year at second base before being shifted to the outfield in early May.

"You know there's something there, bat-wise. Center field seems to be the spot that seems to be musical chairs right now," Torre said. "We'll see what the body language is at the plate. I think Tony would help us if we can get him back in the mix."

Hope for Brown? Kevin Brown visited back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Friday, and Watkins concurred with the diagnosis of a lumbar strain by team physician Stuart Hershon.

Brown will begin a rehab program on his balky back immediately, and the right-hander will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Torre expressed hope that Brown would return to the team and pitch again before the end of the season, though he said he had no timetable for the pitcher.

"We hope so," Torre said when asked if he could realistically expect Brown to pitch again in 2005. "We're going to start rehab, and when they decide it's time to let him throw the ball, hopefully it's good news."

Trade talk: With the trade for Shawn Chacon complete, Cashman turned his attention to more possbile deals on Friday, as just two days remained before the deadline.

In addition to acquiring Chacon, the Yankees have dealt for Al Leiter and signed Hideo Nomo to a Minor League deal since the All-Star break, as the team tries to patch together its wounded starting rotation.

"I'm open to trying anything to improve this club," Cashman said. "One thing I learned from Gene Michael years ago was to sift through the nuggets and come up with some gold every now and then. I'm sifting through a lot of nuggets right now."

Cashman, who couldn't estimate the number of calls he has made, said he has talked with every team other than the Red Sox, as a deal between the two rivals would be unlikely.

"I'm calling everybody, and apologizing to some teams for calling more than once," he said. " 'Tis the season."

Pavano on track: Carl Pavano will make his final rehab start on Wednesday, lining him up to start on Aug. 8 at home against the White Sox.

"The purpose of Wednesday is to finish him off," Cashman said. "That's our hope. We'll see."

Pavano, on the DL since early July with shoulder tendinitis, threw five innings of one-run ball in his first rehab start, throwing 57 pitches.

"We'd like to see him extend himself a little bit, go to 70 or 80 pitches," Torre said.

If Pavano returns on Aug. 8, that will make Jaret Wright the next pitcher on track to return from the DL. Wright will make his first rehab start on Saturday in Tampa.

"Getting Pavano and Wright back may be the biggest trade I can make," Cashman said.

Ruben rehab: Ruben Sierra (left hamstring) says he doesn't know when he will head to Tampa to begin a rehab assignment, but Torre said it would likely be this weekend.

"Swinging the bat is OK, then when he ran, he felt it a little bit. Then he ran a little more and didn't feel it," Torre said. "Chances are, he'll be ready when his time is up."

Sierra is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday in Cleveland.

"He's coming along and swinging a bat," Cashman said. "When he can do functional things, running-wise, we'll get him out on a rehab assignment."

Welcome back: Wayne Franklin was recalled from Triple-A Columbus before Friday's game, while Alex Graman was designated for assignment to make room for the reliever.

Franklin will be making his second stint with the Yankees this season, having gone 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in five appearances earlier this month. He posted a 2-2 record with one save and a 4.13 ERA in 41 games with Columbus this season.

"I think he gives us some options out of the bullpen," Torre said. "He's a left-handed reliever that changes speeds more than anybody else we have left-handed."

Graman posted a 13.50 ERA in two appearances with the Yankees this season.

On deck: Chacon makes his first start for the Yankees on Saturday, as the Bombers host the Angels in the second of three games. The Angels counter with Paul Byrd.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.