Even Andy Pettitte isn’t sure what to expect. He’s supposed to get on a mound this weekend, and his arm feels good, but he hasn’t pitched in a game since June 27. A broken ankle is no longer the problem. Pettitte needs to get his legs under him.
“I’m hoping that whenever I’m able to get on the mound, whenever that process is, that I’ll be able to build up that stamina,” he said. “I have no idea. Like I’ve told y’all all along, I have no idea how my stamina is going to be. Not only in my arm, my legs. I feel like the arm’s going to be good, (but) I’ve had eight weeks of really not doing a whole lot other than riding a bike and swimming in the swimming pool as far as trying to condition. That’s a long ways away from driving off the mound downhill.”
For the Yankees rotation, there is no greater uncertainty than Pettitte’s return. They need Ivan Nova to be productive again, and they need Phil Hughes to keep pitching well, and they’d love Hiroki Kuroda to remain a back-of-the-ballot Cy Young candidate.
But Pettitte is the prize.
“I still know I’m a long ways away,” he said. “I haven’t gotten on a mound yet. Obviously it’s frustrating. I’ve kind of gotten over that whole point, and now I’m just trying to get to the point where I can get on the mound and just start working to be able to get back.”
Pettitte’s ankle seems to have healed, but he’s racing against the clock. The minor league regular season ends next week, and the minor league postseason won’t last beyond the middle of September. That doesn’t give him much time to rehab, and even if he can get some rehab work done, how many big league games can he possible pitch down the stretch? Would one or two starts be enough to trust him in the postseason? What if those starts were bad?
Pettitte has said he’d like to get “a couple” of starts to get himself ready, but he’s already suffered one setback in his recovery, and he can’t afford to rush himself to make sure those couple of tuneups become a reality.
“I think we’ve got to be careful with how much I’m doing, just because doc’s just telling me I’ve got to watch the load,” Pettitte said. “I’m trying to push it to that limit, get to the point where I’m fatigued in there and get a little bit of discomfort in there, and then come back in there today and I feel good where I had a good work day yesterday. When I get on a mound, that will be real important to not beat it up so bad where I come in the next day and I’m taking a few days to recover. I wish I could tell you all more. It’s kind of like day-to-day right now figuring out what I could or couldn’t do.”
Associated Press photo