Big story of Friday night's game was that schedule starter Carl Pavano did not take the ball. Instead he was excused from the team to attend to an unspecified personal issue. According to the Yankees, Pavano should return to the team this weekend and his departure had nothing to do with an injury or the lawsuit stemming from his August 2006 car crash, which was made public Friday morning but was actually filed two months ago according to Peter Abraham, who broke the story. Joe Torre supported Pavano's decision to attend to the matter and Brian Cashman, while refusing to divulge Pavano's personal business, described it as a "legitimate reason." As with Meat's "heavy legs" during workouts in late February, this would be something of a non-story had it involved any other player (imagine, for example, that it was Jeffrey Karstens rather than Pavano who missed his scheduled turn tonight for personal reasons and was supported by both the manager and the GM--no big deal, right?).
Update: Per Joe Torre's post-game press conference, Pavano came to him with the issue forty minutes before game time, but was reluctant to leave, only deciding to do so after Torre and Guidry insisted it was the right thing to do. He should return to the team tomorrow and could even pitch in tomorrow's game (Torre said that was unlikely since it will be a day game, but wouldn't rule it out).
Undisturbed by Pavano's departure, the Yanks waltzed to a win against the Devil Rays.
L - Johnny Damon (CF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Jason Giambi (DH)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Hideki Matsui (LF)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
S - Melky Cabrera (RF)
L - Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)
Pitchers: Jeffrey Karstens, Chase Wright, T.J. Beam, Kyle Farnsworth, Ben Kozlowski, Jose Veras
Subs: Eric Duncan (1B), Chris Basak (2B), Alberto Gonzalez (SS), Angel Chavez (PR/3B), Ben Davis (C), Kevin Thompson (PR/RF), Brett Gardner (CF), Miguel Cairo (LF), Juan Miranda (PR/DH)
Opposition: Most of the last-place D-Ray's starters.
Big Hits: A solo homer by Jorge Posada (1 for 2), his second of the spring. A double by Melky Cabrera (2 for 3). Doug Mientkiewicz walked twice and singled, his first hit of the spring in his 13th at-bat.
Who Pitched Well: Almost everyone. Jeff Karstens allowed just two hits (including a Jonny Gomes double) and walked none while striking out four over his three innings. Three of the other five outs he recorded came on the ground. Chase Wright traded in those two hits for two walks, also striking out four in 2 2/3 innings. T.J. Beam came on to get the final out of the sixth on a grounder. Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect seventh, striking out two and getting a groundout. Jose Veras gave up a double and a walk in the ninth, but got a grounder and two strikeouts to end the game.
Who Didn't: Lefty Ben Kozlowski had an odd go in his first appearance of the spring, allowing the only Devil Ray a run on two walks and a hit in his lone inning of work. Then again, he also struck out the side.
Ouchies: Todd Pratt caught a bullpen session yesterday and ran in the outfield with no pain. He'll test himself by running the bases before seeing game action. It turns out Bobby Abreu has not been swinging a broom stick, but has been doing twisting exercises and is indeed hoping to swing a bat this weekend. Mariano Rivera's allergies kept him out of last night's game. He threw in the bullpen instead.
Battles: Ben Davis struck out in his only at-bat and is 0 for 5 this spring. T.J. Beam got the out he was asked to get, though he's only pitched two partial innings this spring. Jeff Karstens has now thrown five scoreless innings this spring allowing four hits, walking none, and striking out five. Darrell Rasner, who pitched on Thursday, has thrown five scoreless innings allowing three hits, walking none, and striking out three.