Notes: Bernie makes 'roll call'

Notes: Bernie makes 'roll call'

NEW YORK -- Many people thought that Bernie Williams had played his last game in a Yankees uniform during last October's playoffs, so the fans were happy to see the veteran outfielder when he was introduced as part of the team's Opening Day lineup on Tuesday.

The fans in the right-field bleachers, who do a daily "roll call" in the top of the first inning at every home game, even included Williams -- who started as the DH -- in the roll call on Tuesday.

Only Williams wasn't there to hear it.

Williams, who wasn't due to bat in the first inning (he was ninth in the lineup) had gone back into the clubhouse after the national anthem was performed. As the fans chanted "Bernie Williams!" and waited for him to acknowledge them with a wave, Shawn Chacon ran back to the clubhouse to retrieve Williams.

"Shawn came into the clubhouse and said, 'They want you down there,'" Williams said. "By the time I went down, it was already calm."

"They thought they were going to see him for the last time last year in this uniform," Torre said of the reaction to Williams. "He's a favorite; he's been my favorite for 10 years. He's a special guy. He has so much class with the way he goes about his business; he's very respectful of a lot of things around him. I'm sure it made him feel good."

For openers: Johnny Damon went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and a sacrifice bunt in his first game as a member of the home team at Yankee Stadium.

Damon slapped a double in his first at-bat, then scored on Jason Giambi's three-run homer. Damon walked and scored in the second, then laid down a perfect sac bunt in the fourth.

But his biggest at-bat came in the eighth, when he struck out with two men on base and the Yankees trailing, 7-6. Fortunately for Damon, Derek Jeter picked him up with a three-run blast on the next pitch, giving the Yankees the win.

"It's a game I'll never forget; I've been waiting for this moment ever since I signed," Damon said. "Just being able to take this field wearing the pinstripes, it's definitely an honor. To win like that, with the captain and future Hall of Famer hitting a home run like that, it's something I'll take forever."

Feeling the pain: Manager Joe Torre spoke with Carl Pavano on Monday, describing the pitcher as "frustrated" with his slow return from injury.

"He had come so far, and all of a sudden this thing got in the way and has not allowed him to do things," Torre said. "He wants to do more than we're allowing him to do right now."

Pavano bruised his backside on March 30 diving into first base after fielding a ground ball. He threw just two innings this spring after a slow rehab from a back injury.

Torre said that Pavano was getting better, and that his bruise wasn't as tender as it had been. The right-hander has been throwing on flat ground and will throw from halfway up the mound on Thursday.

"I'd like to believe [Pavano could return] early-to-middle May," Torre said. "Once he starts, I think it's going to come very quick."

Rehab report: Aaron Small (hamstring) and Octavio Dotel (shoulder surgery) came through their respective batting practice sessions without any problems, and Small will see action in an extended spring rehab game on Wednesday.

Dotel isn't expected to return until late-May or early-June, and despite being ahead of expectations with regard to his rehab, that's when Torre is counting on seeing the reliever.

"We told him June," Torre said. "So we'll hold to that until someone tells us otherwise."

Late night hacks: Damon appeared on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday night, taking batting practice against Letterman on 53rd Street -- only he hit right-handed.

Letterman threw a few pitches before handing his duties over to Torre, who had stopped by to meet Billy Crystal, also a guest on the show, for dinner.

"I was surprised I threw as many strikes as I did," Torre said. "If I had hit him, it wouldn't have hurt him. It wouldn't have raised a bump."

"I talked to Joe about hitting right-handed," joked Damon. "He said, 'If you do it well, you can do whatever you want.'"

Damon lined a few balls off Torre before handing the bat to Crystal, who took a few swings against the manager.

Coming up: The Yankees host the Royals in the second game of their three-game series on Wednesday, as Shawn Chacon takes on Jeremy Affeldt.

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