Notes: Pettitte bumped to Monday
Left-hander given regular rest as Clemens continues to rehab
NEW YORK -- Flying back from an unexpected trip home to Houston this week, Andy Pettitte was placed on notice that he might have one more regular-season Yankee Stadium start after all.
So when the Yankees tabbed the left-hander -- and not the ailing Roger Clemens -- to pitch Monday's regular-season home finale, Pettitte said he had prepared for the assignment, coming on his normal fifth day of rest.
"I'll just do whatever I have to do to get ready to pitch when they want me to," Pettitte said.
The last-minute switch was another move made out of caution for Clemens, who tweaked his left hamstring while performing distance running on Thursday's off-day.
Clemens was scratched from Saturday's start and reassigned to Monday before the Yankees decided to push him back one more game, tentatively shooting for Tuesday at Tampa Bay. Yankees manager Joe Torre waited until Pettitte threw a bullpen session on Saturday before announcing the switch prior to New York's 12-11 victory over Toronto in 10 innings.
"It was all about giving [Clemens] as much time as we can without disrupting anything," Torre said. "The fact that Andy was on his fifth day made it easier to do."
Clemens said that he has been encouraged by seeing some "spots" rise in the back of his left leg, which could be due in part to the amount of "digging" that trainers have done. Clemens threw in the bullpen for about five minutes on Sunday and reported no issues.
"I just need to get in game situations," Clemens said. "It's going to be completely different from what I'm doing out here. I've got to be honest -- we're at a real critical part of the season, and I don't want to go back. ... I just want this thing to feel the right way and get out there."
With the timing of Clemens' injury, it is possible that he could have just one more regular-season start before the Yankees open a potential American League Division Series series. Pettitte pointed to Clemens' 12-day layoff before a classic Sept. 16 effort at Fenway Park as one reason for optimism that the Rocket would pick it up in a big spot.
"He's shown he can take two weeks off and be very strong and throw a great game," Pettitte said. "That'd be a concern for me, personally, because I feel when I throw on my fifth or sixth day, I need to stay on my game. I feel like I struggle if I have too much rest.
"Roger is totally different. We just need to make sure he's as healthy as he can be going into the playoffs. The good thing is that I don't feel like we're in desperate need where we need to rush him out there."
As the playoffs near, the Yankees' home slate will conclude featuring Pettitte going for his 15th victory. Pettitte said that he has been surprised by how good his left elbow has felt, even deep into September, and credits the surgery that shortened his 2004 campaign with Houston for helping to restore his health.
"I've had to deal with my elbow, after my rookie season, for the eight years that I was here," Pettitte said. "It's just nice to feel like I don't have to eat anti-inflammatories the whole year."
100 grand: With a fifth-inning triple on Saturday, Hideki Matsui reached the 100-RBI mark for the ninth time in his professional career, including four times in the Major Leagues.
Matsui, who missed four months last season with a broken left wrist, said the milestone was notable considering his lengthy absence. Matsui entered Sunday's game batting .289 with 25 home runs and 102 RBIs in 138 games.
"I don't really get caught up in the numbers game, but the more the better, certainly," Matsui said through an interpreter. "At least I reached a number similar to what I had before I got hurt. In that sense, it was important."
Going to 'war: After Saturday's game, Torre spoke about how it might be needed to put an arm around rookie right-hander Edwar Ramirez and remind him about all the tough outs he'd recorded. Ramirez has allowed four runs in his last three appearances, including one home run, and got just one out in Saturday's appearance.
Then, in the middle of the clubhouse on Sunday morning, Torre did just that, enveloping the string-bean reliever in an embrace.
Ramirez said that he worked on a mechanical flaw in the bullpen on Sunday with pitching coach Ron Guidry and Triple-A coach Dave Eiland, trying to close his front shoulder and prevent flying open.
Bombers bits: The Yankees paid tribute to Phil Rizzuto in a pregame ceremony on Sunday, featuring speeches by Reggie Jackson and Bobby Murcer. ... Over New York's last 16 games entering play on Sunday, the club's starting pitchers were 8-1 with a 2.56 ERA and had not allowed a home run in 88 innings. ... Rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain turned 22 on Sunday.
Coming up: The Yankees will play home game No. 81 on Monday, with Pettitte (14-8, 3.79 ERA) making the start for New York opposite Toronto right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-7, 3.40 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET on the YES Network.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.