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Notes: Pavano gets injury scare

Notes: Pavano gets scare during live session

TAMPA, Fla. -- Carl Pavano was hit on the left foot while pitching live batting practice to Yankees players on Saturday.

Pavano, 31, was clipped by a ball batted by infielder Alberto Gonzalez. The right-hander is attempting to make the Yankees' rotation this spring after losing the last 1 1/2 Major League seasons to an assortment of various injuries.

"It feels a little stiff," said Pavano, who later joked about having a bulls-eye on him. "It isn't the first time I got hit down there."

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General manager Brian Cashman, watching the events from his perch behind the batting cage, said that Pavano "seems to be a heat-seeking missile."

"I winced like I would with anybody," Cashman said. "Obviously, we're counting on him. He's a big piece of our rotation."

For the past three days, the Yankees have been conducting live batting practice drills with starters and relievers pitching to hitters.

Some pitchers opt to use the protective 'L' screen on the mound, which likely would have blocked Gonzalez's drive. Because the drills are taking place near full speed, players like Pavano and ace Chien-Ming Wang have refused to use the screen so as not to alter their motions.

"I'd rather take that chance than sacrifice my mechanics by pitching with that screen," Pavano said. "Some guys feel comfortable with it. I don't."

Pavano said that he does not expect the injury to create a problem. He planned to report early to Legends Field on Sunday for treatment and is scheduled for a regular workout. Pavano said he would next pitch on Tuesday, the day the Yankees are planning an intrasquad scrimmage.

"I don't expect it to be hindering or anything," Pavano said.

Ironically, Pavano hit Gonzalez with a fastball during Thursday's live batting practice session, leaving the imprint of the ball's stitching bruised on Gonzalez's left bicep.

"I smiled at him and said, 'All right, payback,'" Pavano said.

Aside from Saturday's events, Pavano has been mostly healthy and is pitching well early in Yankees camp. He completed a successful offseason training program in Phoenix with trainer Brett Fischer and has earned strong endorsements thus far from manager Joe Torre, Cashman and others.

"I know the ability's there, obviously," Cashman said. "There are some good things he can do with that baseball."

Big projections: Alex Rodriguez came away impressed from a batting practice session with Kei Igawa, and proclaimed the left-hander "deceptive" and a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium.

"I actually think he has the capability to win 15 games this year, if not more," Rodriguez said. "I was very impressed. He's clearly the kind of pitcher you want, especially in the American League."

Rodriguez said that Igawa's breaking ball was halfway between a curveball and a slider, and that he had shown good location.

Asked to make a comparison of Igawa to a left-hander he has faced in the United States, Rodriguez came up empty, but said, "That's a good thing. He throws harder than most lefties ... I think his uniqueness is going to help him."

Pain in the back: Reliever Brian Bruney complained Saturday of sharp pains in his left lower back, near his ribcage. Bruney said the injury has been bothering him all week but has grown in intensity recently, and that he would seek treatment.

You're excused: Outfielder Johnny Damon was given an excused absence from Saturday's workout to attend to "personal business," the Yankees said.

"I think it's going to be a few days or so," Torre said. "He's got some personal things he needs to attend to and we just gave him that ability."

Damon told Cashman and Torre of the unspecified matter on Friday and gained clearance to leave camp. Cashman said that Damon could address the matter further when he returns to Tampa, if he so chooses.

With relief: Humberto Sanchez pitched with the Yankees' starting staff in the first round of workouts on Thursday, but has been pushed back a day after experiencing mild right forearm tightness.

Sanchez, 22, will now pitch on Sunday with the team's relievers, but the hurler -- who has been projected by some as a potential late-inning reliever -- said he didn't read anything into the switch.

"Not that I know of," Sanchez said. "At least, not yet."

Hi, kids: Torre spent a good portion of Saturday's workout on a back field, accompanying pitching coach Ron Guidry as they watched a selection of young Yankees pitchers face live hitting.

Torre mentioned Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Steven Jackson and Chase Wright as pitchers who caught his eye in the session. He has been pleased by the stuff and size exhibited by a number of the hurlers in camp.

"This is the first time we've had this kind of quality, arms-wise," Torre said. "A number of them [are] from outside our organization. It's been pretty impressive."

GM's meeting: Four New York general managers, past and present, met near the Yankees dugout on Saturday -- Cashman, Gene Michael, Bob Watson and former New York football Giants GM Ernie Accorsi.

Accorsi, wearing a Yankees cap, watched batting practice from behind the cage and told Torre he would return to Legends Field for an exhibition game.

This and that: Torre called Matt DeSalvo's performance "terrific" and Ross Ohlendorf's "very good." Both right-handers pitched following the Yankees' starting rotation at Legends Field.

Quotable: "I'll tell you one thing: You turn him loose, and he could do it in 10 minutes." -- Torre, on how Kei Igawa might fare if assigned Daisuke Matsuzaka's recent 103-pitch bullpen session.

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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