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Back could keep Pavano out of regular-season opener

Because of back trouble, Carl Pavano is likely to be on the disabled list for the start of the regular season.

"I'm not banking on him (being ready for) opening day," manager Joe Torre said.

The right-hander, tentatively scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time Thursday or Friday, could open on the DL with the goal of being activated for the April 15 game at Minnesota, the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.

General manager Brian Cashman said "it isn't an issue" if Pavano is on the DL for opening day.

"I think that if we have some unfortunate things happen to other pitchers and he progresses without incident going forward, I think he could be ready to go by the beginning of the season and not be on the DL," he said. "But we might be in position to take our time."

SHEFFIELD OUT: Rightfielder Gary Sheffield sat out with back spasms, and Cashman said he will "probably not" be on the field today.

Sheffield said his back began hurting Saturday because he took too many swings and the discomfort spread from his lower back to between his shoulder blades.

"It was real tight," he said. "So I just said give it one day and then I'll be ready to go (today)."

- ED PRICE, Newark Star-Ledger

BLUE JAYS

Games start today

DUNEDIN - The tedium of daily workouts ends today.

The first pitch of intrasquad games today and Tuesday is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. at the Bobby Mattick Training Center at the Englebert Complex.

It's right-hander Roy Halladay's black team vs. right-hander A.J. Burnett's gray team today. No one will pitch more than one inning.

The Jays' spring schedule begins Thursday when they host the Devil Rays. Halladay is scheduled to start.

SLOW DAY: With the fields soaked from an early morning shower and the pitchers not scheduled to throw, activity was limited to early morning hitting in the cages and a light infield workout on the FieldTurf diamond.

"I just made sure I cleared it with Hillenbrand first," manager John Gibbons said, joking.

Third baseman Shea Hillenbrand was the last to arrive for workouts last week and said he gets a harder workout on his own than at camp. He also made reference to a country club atmosphere last season.

- SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

PHILLIES

Pitcher to focus on career

CLEARWATER - Pitcher Rob Tejeda hopes everyone back home in the Dominican Republic understands.

Amid rumors the right-hander would be chosen to represent his country at the World Baseball Classic, Tejeda took himself out of consideration to focus on trying to make the Phillies roster.

"I'm not going because playing for the Phillies is my job," he said.

As a rookie last year, Tejeda, 23, went 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 games (13 starts). But he finds himself in a roster fight, most likely for a bullpen spot.

BELL TIGHT: Third baseman David Bell is nursing a sore left forearm that hurts when he swings the bat.

Bell didn't play in Sunday's intrasquad game but did fielding drills. He's out for today's intrasquad game, too, and might not hit for a few more days.

HAMELS THROWS: With a pack of coaches looking on, top prospect Cole Hamels climbed onto a mound for the first time this spring. The lefty, who has had arm and shoulder injuries in the past, threw 25 pain-free pitches to catcher Carlos Ruiz.

"It was a light workout," Hamels said. "But my body felt good."

PHIL-INS: Mike Lieberthal's single off Gavin Floyd accounted for the only run in a 4 1/2-inning intrasquad game at Bright House Networks Field. The Phillies will play another 4 1/2-inning game at noon today. Ryan Howard showed up only to be sent home shortly after with a 103-degree temperature. Pitcher Greg Booker, acquired in December in a Rule 5 draft day trade, is scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time today. The right-hander has been behind due to offseason left knee surgery. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt will arrive today as a special hitting instructor.

- RANDY MILLER

Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times

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