Notes: Yanks set starting rotation
New York to open with four-man cycle, Wright to be fifth starter
PHOENIX -- The Yankees' five-man starting rotation was set on Friday, but for the time being, it actually is a four-man unit.With two scheduled days off the first two weeks of the regular season, the Yankees can go with a four-man rotation that includes veterans Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina as a solid one-two punch, joined by right-handers Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon. "When we need a fifth starter," manager Joe Torre said Friday afternoon, "it will be Jaret Wright." Exactly when that would be remains up in the air, but Torre and new pitching coach Ron Guidry met with Wright on Friday, explained the situation, and everyone is on the same page. "[Wright] is fine and understands," Torre said. "He was wondering when we would need a fifth starter, and I told him that [his being the long man for now] was as much information as I had. Our plan with the long man is to not bring him in to get out of trouble. I'm not saying he won't come into a game in the middle of an inning, but basically, he won't come in to get an important out." Torre said it would be practicably impossible to keep the fifth starter informed as to when he might pitch, but Wright is "ready to deal with whatever we do." Wright, who had a 5-5 record and 6.08 ERA in an injury-plagued season in 2005, appeared in four Grapefruit League games, going 1-1 with a 9.26 ERA. But it was more about what Wang and Chacon did last season than anything that happened this spring that landed them starting roles in this season's rotation. "They pitched well last year, and they didn't do anything to change your mind this year," Torre said. "All those things entered into equation. It didn't come down to Jaret missing a start or anything like that. Last year, Wang and Chacon were our bread-and-butter guys, along with [Aaron Small]. If we don't have them, we don't go anywhere." Wang, who made his final Spring Training start on Friday night against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, contributed an 8-5 record in 18 appearances, pitching at least six innings in 15 of his 17 starts. Chacon also gave the Yankees a huge late-season lift, going 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA after being acquired from the Rockies on July 28. "When Chacon gets in trouble, he seems to be tougher -- which is a very good trait to have for a pitcher," Torre said. "And he's a big cheerleader for our ballclub in the dugout when he's not pitching. He keeps everyone going." The rotation that begins the season in Oakland on Monday afternoon isn't quite what Torre had in mind. Right-hander Carl Pavano figured to be in the mix, but a freakish injury at first base during a Grapefruit League game means the veteran will begin the regular season on the 15-day disabled list. He suffered an injury to his left buttocks when he dove to first base while making a play. "I wish Pavano was [healthy]," Torre said. "He was excited about how good he felt coming into Spring Training." General manager Brian Cashman had a phone conversation with Pavano on Friday and it was decided that Pavano would take this weekend off. "We're going to take it slowly and get through [the discomfort] before we get him throwing again," Cashman said. "I don't know when that will be. We will shut him down this weekend and see where he's at on Monday." Pavano had a MRI exam on Thursday night and the results were negative.
Up next: The Diamondbacks and Yankees face off again at 3:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Chase Field in the final tuneup for both teams. Chacon will get the start for against Arizona's Miguel Batista.
Jim Street is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.