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Pavano could start on Saturday

Pavano could start on Saturday

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TORONTO -- The Yankees have not finalized Saturday's starting pitcher, but Carl Pavano appears to have inched ahead of Phil Hughes after clearing his latest rehab hurdle.

Both right-handers completed bullpen sessions on Wednesday as they continue to work back from injuries. General manager Brian Cashman said that both Hughes and Pavano are "fine" and remain in line to make their next start, wherever that may be.

The Yankees need a fifth starter after right-hander Dan Giese went on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, and manager Joe Girardi expects to have an announcement on Thursday.

On Sunday, Hughes struggled in his third start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, allowing five runs on eight hits -- including a two-run homer -- over 3 2/3 innings. Girardi said that his reports indicated Hughes had been under the weather.

Attempting to return from Tommy John elbow-reconstruction surgery, Pavano had the better evening, hurling six innings of one-run, six-hit ball for Double-A Trenton, striking out six and walking one. Reports had indicated that he exited that start with a stiff neck, but he completed his bullpen session on Wednesday with no setbacks.

The 32-year-old Pavano is in the final year of a four-year, $39.95 million contract signed before the 2005 season. Repeatedly troubled by injuries, Pavano has made just 19 starts for New York, winning a total of five games over the span of the agreement.

He was the Yankees' Opening Day starter in 2007 after Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte were pushed out with injuries, but he made only two starts before he experienced right forearm tightness that served as a precursor to the Tommy John procedure.

If Pavano starts on Saturday, it would be his first Major League start since April 9 at Minnesota, when he threw seven innings in an 8-2 victory over the Twins.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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