There’s been a lot written and said about Andy Pettitte looking like his old self this season, but that might not be entirely accurate. He’s been successful — that hasn’t changed — but his strikeout rate is up, and he’s been allowing fewer base runners than we’re used to seeing.
It’s not a bad thing, obviously, but it’s not exactly the method of success that Pettitte made so familiar.
“I like what he’s doing now, let’s just keep him there,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m sure he’s going to have games when he does that (more base runners, fewer strikeouts). That’s vintage Andy as well. He’s just had a great slider. Hopefully he can keep that the whole year, but I’m sure you’re going to see a little bit of both.”
The slider Girardi talked about is the same pitch that Pettitte has always called a cutter, but Girardi said it’s been more slider-ish this season. And that’s leading to some of the high strikeout totals, especially the past two games.
“He still calls it his cutter,” Girardi said. “His cutter used to be smaller years and years ago, but it’s gotten bigger over the years, and I think he’s done that on purpose.”
“Right now I feel really good with all my pitches. As far as that sense, the pitching standpoint of it, as far as getting control of what you want to do, so far those are all there.”
• While Girardi was doing his usual pregame interview in the dugout, Nick Swisher walked by and Girardi yelled to ask whether Swisher felt alright following last night’s collision. “I feel awesome,” Swisher said with his usual laugh. Both Swisher and Curtis Granderson seemed fine last night, and they’re both back in the lineup tonight.
• For the second straight day down in Tampa, Brett Gardner took dry swings today. He’ll progress to tee and toss tomorrow, continuing his rehab from a strained elbow.
• Rehabbing from a strained oblique, Dave Robertson played catch for 50 throws today. Girardi said he’s still not sure when Robertson will get on a mound, but he should have a date by tomorrow.
• Claimed off waivers today, reliever Ryota Igarashi has already reported to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. “I don’t know a lot about him, but we expect him to be a reliever that can possibly contribute here for us,” Girardi said. “I don’t think they would have signed him if they didn’t think he could contribute.” He might have said the same thing about Cory Wade last season, or Clay Rapada this winter, or Cody Eppley this spring.
• Girardi said he’s never really considered benching Russell Martin this season. In fact, he said he would probably stick with Martin all season even if his production stayed the exact same. “We know that Russell is able to catch at a very high level back there,” Girardi said. “We’ve seen the balls he’s able to block and all the things he’s able to do behind home plate. As a catcher, to me, the most important job is defense – and he’s able to do that. He’s also been able to walk and get on base, which has helped. I know that .177 is not going to be there the whole year, so it’s easy to put him back there.”
• If it weren’t clear already, Girardi said today that Boone Logan is more of a setup man than a left-handed specialist right now. “Logan is going to have to get some outs later in the game for us, and it’s going to be some left- and right-handers,” Girardi said. “Before, you could bring him in a lot earlier.”
• Here’s Pettitte on the way he’ll approach Albert Pujols: “He’s a great hitter. I guess probably, you’ve got one of those guys in every lineup, so you really can’t think of it much more than that. He’s a guy that’s going to hurt you if you make a mistake. Whether he’s slumping or not, I would treat him the exact same way. You just know he’s a great hitter. Make pitches. Try to make pitches to him and try not to let him hurt you too much. The situation dictates how you’ll pitch to him at some point sometimes. But other that, a good pitch is a good pitch, and hopefully it’s good enough to get him out if he’s up there in a big spot.”
• Russell Branyan has been activated from the Triple-A disabled list and assigned to High-A Tampa.
Associated Press photos