TAMPA, Fla. -- Pitchers and catchers don't officially report to Legends Field until Thursday, but the Yankees have already had their first setback of Spring Training.
Carl Pavano, who visited a specialist in Los Angeles last week after tweaking his lower back, had his first mound session pushed back 10 to 14 days on Wednesday after Dr. Robert Watkins prescribed a stabilization program for the right-hander.
"We're going to follow this, just to make sure we don't have any issues," said general manager Brian Cashman. "The timing is a little bit of a problem, but we had a choice to make. We have the opportunity [to rest Pavano] right now because it's so early in camp, so we're going to follow the recommendation."
"It's just stiffness," said Pavano, who said he feels the problem on his left side when he lands after his delivery. "At this point, with the setbacks I had last year in my shoulder, to start to throw through something that might develop into something or might not, I don't know if it makes sense."
After missing the second half of 2005 with right rotator cuff tendinitis, Pavano is confident that his arm strength is where it needs to be, giving him hope for 2006. He threw on flat ground on Wednesday, something he has been doing regularly since mid-December.
"This is the fourth day this week I've thrown on flat ground, and I feel really good," Pavano said. "I'm real encouraged by it. As long as I keep feeling like that, nothing's stopping us."
According to Cashman, Watkins said that the injury shouldn't be a long-term problem for Pavano, who will continue to throw on flat ground for the next two weeks. Pavano is not scheduled to return to Southern California for a follow-up visit with Watkins.
Pavano doesn't think that this latest injury will prevent him from being ready by Opening Day, though Cashman and manager Joe Torre weren't ready to make that statement. Torre pointed out that the Yankees don't need five starters until mid-April, giving Pavano some extra time if necessary.
"It's always a question," Torre said. "He could very well be ready to start the season, I don't know, but we're certainly not going to have that as a necessity. The most important thing is covering all of the issues now. Once we get him back, he'll be the guy he wants to be and we expect him to be."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.