"Something came up," Torre said, "and we allowed him to go take care of what he needed to take care of. He was a little reluctant on what he should do. Both Gator and I insisted that he go."
Right-hander Jeff Karstens was selected to start in Pavano's place. Torre said that Pavano would re-enter the Yankees' rotation shortly, though it is doubtful he would pitch Saturday because of a quick turnaround for an afternoon game against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the reasons behind Pavano's abrupt departure were legitimate.
"There's somewhere he should be right now," Cashman said. "The important thing is to know that he really doesn't need to be here [Friday]. It's something that just came up right before game time.
"Joe said, 'Let him go,' and rightfully so. He'll return here soon. It's not an issue. He's taking care of something that he needs to be taking care of."
Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said that Pavano's absence was not related to any legal issues or proceedings, and said that the hurler may return to the team Saturday.
Cashman said Pavano could address his situation further with reporters upon his return, if he so chooses.
Earlier Friday, The Associated Press reported that Pavano had been named in a lawsuit relating to an August 2006 automobile accident.
Ernest DeLaura, 47, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., also named the Yankees as a defendant when he filed paperwork two months ago in Bronx state Supreme Court, the report stated.
On Aug. 15, DeLaura was driving a garbage truck in West Palm Beach, Fla., when Pavano's 2006 Porsche hydroplaned and hit DeLaura's vehicle.
Pavano sustained two broken ribs in the accident, which he concealed from the club for a short period, making three rehabilitation starts before seeking medical attention.
DeLaura's attorney, Paul Edelman, told the AP that his client required shoulder surgery and may need a second procedure on his neck.
Pavano is entering the third year of a four-year, $39.95 million contract he signed with the Yankees after the 2004 season. He has made one exhibition start this spring, allowing one run in two innings against the Phillies on Sunday.