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Extent of Pavano's injury unknown
08/30/2006 12:17 AM ET
NEW YORK -- The official investigation into Carl Pavano's car accident is underway.

Police have already released their report, and now it's the Yankees' and general manager Brian Cashman's turn to find out what actually happened.

Pavano, who waited until Saturday to inform the Yankees that he was involved in a car accident in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 15, will see Dr. Stuart Hershon in New York on Wednesday to get a full physical evaluation to look at his two fractured ribs and any other ailments that the righty may have incurred.

His scheduled start for Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday has been scratched and another one won't be penciled in until Cashman has all the details about Pavano's rib injury. Manager Joe Torre said he's not counting on Pavano to pitch for the Yankees this season.

Pavano has concerns other than Cashman. According to The New York Daily News, which obtained a copy of the police report, Pavano was charged with the accident, contrary to what he told reporters on Monday. The report also said Pavano's 2006 Porsche sustained $30,000 worth of damage.

The driver that Pavano hit when his car slid out of control on the wet road says he has a shoulder injury and has retained legal counsel. His truck sustained $20,000 worth of damage.

Cashman spoke like an investigator on Tuesday, saying he wants to get all the facts straight before making an emotional decision.

Right now, that emotion is of complete frustration. Pavano hasn't pitched in more than 14 months due to shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and now rib injuries.

"It's frustrating, because you want results," Cashman said. "I don't think he's enjoying the experience. I know we're not enjoying the experience. It's frustrating for all parties involved."

Despite talking with Pavano already about what happened, Cashman said he doesn't have any facts about the accident yet. He said he will wait until he's in the right setting and takes the right procedures in questioning Pavano, so he doesn't "compromise" himself.

Once everything is known about the accident and Pavano's decision to withhold news of it from the organization, a fine or some other punishment could be levied. Cashman said he doesn't want to rule out any punishment.

"We haven't done anything yet, because I haven't completed an investigation," Cashman said. "We need to be smart about where we are instead of forcing an issue because of frustration and because of circumstances and compound the problem by making bad choices. The right choice right now is to make sure he has a full physical evaluation."

Pavano saw a Triple-A Columbus doctor on Tuesday, but Cashman and Hershon agreed that they want to do their own head-to-toe checkup. Cashman said the Yankees would have never checked for a fractured rib after Pavano first complained of pain after pitching six innings last Friday for Columbus. They thought it was only a strain or muscle spasm.

Now even after finding out that there is indeed more of a physical problem than once thought, it sounded as if some Yankees were questioning the true severity of the injury and whether it should stop Pavano. He, after all, did make three starts after getting in the car accident.

It all adds to the speculation that Pavano, who signed a four-year $39.5 million contract before last season, may have lost his passion for the game. He has started just 17 games for the Yankees -- all in 2005.

"I know there's a lot of stuff flying around that he doesn't want to pitch now," Cashman said. "So far, up to this latest incident, he has been held back mainly because of physical issues and they've all been legitimate. ... I don't buy into that."

Yankees reliever Octavio Dotel, who's battled his fair share of setbacks when trying to come back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery this season, said he has sympathy for Pavano. But even he seemed to ponder how Pavano could pitch six innings last Friday despite the injury and not be able to pitch now.

"I heard he threw six innings," Dotel said. "So hey, why not [keep doing it]? If he was really, really hurt I don't think he could pitch one inning. ... If he did that, then let's keep going, bro."

Dotel said he believes Pavano wants to compete and could tell he has been frustrated by just looking at him. He said he doesn't talk to Pavano, because he doesn't know what he would say that would make him feel better. Dotel empathized with Pavano wanting to hide his injury to possibly help get him back to the Yankees sooner.

"After you get so many pains and so many little things, you want to go through it and pitch with that feeling to see if it goes away," Dotel said. "I'm not saying he should do that, but sometimes you get to that point and you want to do it no matter what."

Torre said he could see Pavano's side of things, but he's also frustrated. Torre hasn't spoken with Pavano since the team was informed of the accident, but unlike Cashman, the manager said he isn't going to delve into any investigation.

"It seems that every time we think we have something solved, something else pops up," Torre said of Pavano's injuries. "You just kind of shake your head."

Torre also seemed to ponder the severity of the rib injury saying, "There are players who have played with broken bones before. Evidently, it was possible [because Pavano did it on Friday]."

Derek Jeter said he didn't know all the details of the injury and that he hasn't even thought much about it.

"It's not a letdown if you weren't counting on it," Jeter said of Pavano's comeback, which was supposed to happen later this week.

Even if Pavano does come back this season there are concerns about how he will be received in the Yankees' clubhouse. There have been several players who said off the record that it seemed like Pavano didn't want to pitch, and Cashman said he's sure the players are frustrated.

"You have to walk into this clubhouse, dress next to these guys and carry your share of the load," Torre said. "If it's a little tougher to do that at first, so be it."

As team captain, Jeter spoke almost as the team's representative to reporters on Tuesday.

"He's a teammate, he's going to be welcomed," Jeter said. "We want him to win. We want him to do well. But he's got to be healthy first, before we can answer those questions."

The Yankees will find out just how healthy Pavano is on Wednesday. Cashman said he could use a healthy Pavano. The question is whether that will ever come.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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