As the trying days of September lie ahead, the New York Yankees need to finish strong down the stretch in order to fend off the young Tampa Bay Rays and secure their second straight AL East title. Their title defense starts with the return of Andy Pettitte.
After throwing a 25 pitch bullpen session today at about 75 percent, the veteran left-hander has continued to try and battle back from a left groin injury that has seen him sidelined since July 19.
“I didn’t have any discomfort at all. For me, that’s a positive,” Pettitte said. “I feel like this thing is healing. I feel like now it’s just a matter of building the strength back up in there, and the only way to do that is to get on the mound and throw pitches.”
Getting on the mound is as big a concern for the Yankees’ pitching staff as it is for Pettitte’s recovery, considering New York’s starters recent woes. With Javier Vazquez and A.J Burnett struggling of late, only the consistent excellence of ace C.C Sabathia and a potent Yankee’s offense has allowed the Yankees to battle through the last month.
Pettitte, who was 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA before landing on the DL, could be back for the final two weeks of the season, which would guarantee him three starts. Pettitte’s health directly affects the Yankee’s place in the standings, especially with Tampa Bay keeping the race for 1st place tight, as his presence will help bring consistency to what has become an erratic Yankee team.
Because of his age and overall wear-and-tear, Andy’s groin injury will be treated with kid gloves. If any setbacks flare up, Yankee’s management may decide to shut Pettitte down until October where the all-time playoff wins leader will ultimately make his biggest impact.