Andy Pettitte is one step closer to the start of a renewed career as a Yankee.
The Trenton Thunder was his team this week, joining the rotation after making two starts in the Florida State League for Tampa. He threw 81 pitches, 59 of them strikes, on Wednesday against the Erie Seawolves. The Thunder eventually fell to the Seawolves 10-4.
Pettitte was himself for the most part. He challenged hitters to make contact, utilizing his slider and fastball. He isn’t at full strength and that was obvious in his execution. The Erie Seawolves, the Detroit Tigers affiliate, 4th in Eastern League team average, swung often, but smart. They got 14 hits overall, three of them from second baseman Brandon Douglas.
By the time Pettitte was pulled in the 6th after Robert Brantly, ranked 7th in the Tigers system by Baseball America singled, he’d been bruised, but not battered, and tagged for the loss.
Michael Pineda is now on the DL and on the day that news was made official, Pettitte’s progress took on new urgency.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke with the media after Pettitte’s performance and clarified that the location of his next start is undecided.
“He’s got to go through the right motions. There’s his age and taking a year off, so he’ll be ready when he’s ready,” Cashman said in response to a reporter’s question about the effect of Pineda’s health. “Our next step we’ll see how he feels. After each start we basically take a step back and that’s why there was a lot of anticipation about whether he’s going to be here. We kind of wait, look at the weather, see how he’s feeling, and then slot him. Right now we’ll see how he feels tomorrow from this and start looking at the weather and schedules to see what would make the most sense.”
Cashman also said that they would take a few days to make that decision.
Due to the rainout, originally slated pitcher Jared Wesson wasn’t on the mound. Instead it was righty Zack Segovia. Segovia went six innings, allowing three runs on two hits and picked up the win.
The Seawolves were excited to face a pitcher almost assuredly a future-Hall of Famer. The challenge and opportunity was a boost in the pre-game clubhouse.
“Absolutely,” said Seawolves manager Chris Cron. “It’s no secret what’s going on today. “
By the 3rd, Pettitte already showed some signs of tiring. Not his best night, but in the overall picture, for a 39-year-old destined for the Hall of Fame, it was a small success. And it was still something special.
“It makes an April 25th game more than regular April 25th,” Cron said.