There are times when it’s not in Joe Girardi’s best interest to tell the whole truth. It’s frustrating, but understandable. In the case of the Yankees postseason rotation, Girardi was hiding a significant piece of information.
Andy Pettitte felt tightness in his back and hamstring during the division series. It was severe enough that Pettitte had to cut short his following bullpen session, his scheduled start in Game 5 would have been no sure thing had the series gone that far. Had Pettitte been healthy, Girardi said, the ALCS rotation might have been different. As it was, they took their chances on a little extra rest helping Pettitte get through Game 3.
“Every time he went after a ball, I was concerned,” Girardi said. “If you share that knowledge, maybe they bunt more. Maybe they try to do more things. And that was a concern of mine.??”
Even with the playoff tightness and the midseason groin injury, Girardi said he’s still confident Pettitte will be healthy enough to pitch next season. And Girardi hopes he does exactly that.
“I think (after) a full offseason he’ll heal fine,” Girardi said. “In saying that, he needs to make a decision, but Andy’s a Yankee. Let’s hope that he decides he wants to play again.??”
Here’s Girardi’s explanation of exactly what happened with his No. 2 starter in the postseason:
Sometimes as a manager you have to do things for certain reasons. As I said before, we lined up our rotation, there were a lot of factors that went into our rotation. Sometimes you’re going to take heat or people are going to question things that you do about it because you’re trying to protect a player or protect a strategy. Let me take you back.
Andy Pettitte pitched Thursday against Minnesota. In the seventh inning, Andy’s back started locking up a little bit. His hamstrings got really tight. He gutted it through the seventh inning for us and got through it. He wanted to go back out for the eighth. I think he had about 88 pitches. And I said, ‘No, you’re not going back out. You’ve done your job.’ He came in on Friday and his back was locked up. Saturday was his bullpen because he basically had to prepare for Game 5. He got about halfway through his bullpen and had to walk off because his leg grabbed at him. A little different spot, his adductor.
So we thought it was in our best interests, and I thought talking to the trainers and the doctors, if we could give him a couple of extra days he might be able to get through that series. He didn’t throw a light bullpen until Wednesday because we were fearful. The last time Andy walked off a bullpen (while rehabbing the groin injury), it became a couple of weeks. If I only had Andy for one game in that playoff, I was willing to take the risk to make sure he was healthy.
In talking to doctors, trainers, our staff, Cash, we thought we had to give him those two extra days. Andy had some leg problems down the stretch, he had some back issues. It was unfortunate and he pitched a great game. Who knows what would have happened if he was able to pitch Game 2? We just felt that after having that issue on Saturday, we’d better give him a couple of extra days.
Associated Press photo