Andy Pettitte isn’t the only player in the Yankees clubhouse who’s anxious to get back. If tonight’s weather were better, Brett Gardner might also have been activated from the disabled list, finally cleared to play a small role in these final two weeks.
“I’ve been taking fly balls since last home stand,” Gardner said. “The last few days since the team’s been home, I’ve been throwing to bases and running, obviously, keeping my legs in shape. My legs feel good, so I feel good.”
Joe Girardi said it’s “real possible” that Gardner will be activated this week, limited to late-inning defense and pinch running. Gardner started a light hitting program this afternoon, but he’s not cleared to swing away in a game. He could, in theory, bunt in a game, but that’s not likely.
“He’s not going to be able to hit, but you have enough guys on your bench that if his spot came up in a crazy game, you could do something,” Girardi said.
Gardner said he hasn’t talked to the Yankees about the possibility of getting a spot on the postseason roster, but Girardi said he “wouldn’t say he’s completely ruled out” for a posteason roster spot. It’s been exactly eight weeks since Gardner had surgery on that elbow injury that never quite went away, and he said it was roughly two weeks ago that he “turned a corner” and realized he was going to be fine.
“It’s just unfortunate that I had the surgery when I did because the season is coming down to a close and I wish I could have had it sooner,” Gardner said. “But at the time I really didn’t think that was option. We didn’t think it was necessary. Looking back, I would have loved to have done it in April, but we didn’t think it was something that was necessary. I’m excited to be back, even though there’s only a little bit of time, hopefully I can get in a game or two and help out.”
Game 1: Andy Pettitte vs. Henderson Alvarez
Game 2: David Phelps vs. Ricky Romero
Thursday: Phil Hughes vs. Aaron Laffey
CC Sabathia has been pushed back to the series opener against Oakland.
• Mark Teixeira is probably going to miss more than the 10-14 days that were originally predicted. Instead of getting back this weekend or early next week, it’s like Teixeira won’t be ready until the next-to-last series in Toronto. “I would not be surprised if it takes that long,” Girardi said. “As of Sunday, he still had soreness. It’s not progressing as quickly as we’d like, but we have to get him right.”
• Pettitte said today’s rain doesn’t affect him very much. “I’ve been rained out plenty,” he said. “You wake up, get a good night’s sleep, have breakfast, and get ready to pitch. It’ll be good. I won’t have to wait all day long so I’m excited about that. Just to be able to wake up and get into my routine about 10:30 tomorrow morning and start preparing for that start.”
• One downside to the rain out: Pettitte no longer has time to make four regular-season starts before the postseason. “I mean, if I needed to make another start, I could,” Pettitte said. “It’s not like I couldn’t pitch on another day (on short rest or a simulated game) or whatever. I would have loved to throw today and have no rain and be able to make four starts hopefully before we go to a postseason game, but we can’t do nothing about it, so you just got to go with the hand you’re dealt.”
• Pettitte got to pick the day game or the night game. He picked the day game.
• David Phelps was chosen for tomorrow’s second game because the Yankees knew they would have to insert a new starter at some point, might as well do it right away. “He’s pitched very well as a starter for us,” Girardi said. “Another thing, by doing it tomorrow, you get him back in the bullpen sooner.”
• Girardi said he never filled out a lineup card today, so he never made a decision about whether Derek Jeter would return to shortstop tonight. “My guess is he’ll tell me he feels great and he’ll want to play both (tomorrow),” Girardi said. “But I’ll have to see.”
• Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar has been suspended three games for writing a homophobic message into his eye black over the weekend. “It was not something I intended to be offensive,” Escobar said. “It was something I just put on the sticker on my face as a joke. There was nothing intentional directed at anyone in particular. I don’t have anything against homosexuals. I have friends who are gay. In reality I’d like to ask for the apologies of all those who have been offended by this.”
Associated Press photos