Kevin Brown's back is hurting again, just as the season is about to begin.
The Yankees' 39-year-old right-hander left his final spring outing after three innings yesterday and could miss his first scheduled regular season start next week.
Brown, ineffective for much of last year because of back pain, gave up four runs and six hits in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers. He told pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre after his third inning that he felt "stiff and achy."
"I thought I'd go ahead and get out of there before I had a chance to do any real damage," Brown said.
Brown, who allowed Carlos Peña's two-run homer and RBI single, had been scheduled to make his first start next Friday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
"We just hope it's nothing that's going to lay him up," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said. "We're going to have to see how he is. Certainly if he's not healthy, we're going to have to look at it and see if we make an adjustment."
Jaret Wright, currently the fifth starter, isn't scheduled to make his first start until April 15 at Baltimore. Wright, who allowed two hits in four scoreless innings yesterday, could move into Brown's slot. . . .
Devil Rays all-star outfielder Carl Crawford agreed to a four-year, $15.25 million contract that could be worth $32.5 million over six seasons. Crawford, 23, is a two-time AL stolen base champion.
-- From News Services