Slow recovery frustrating for Pettitte
Battling left groin strain, southpaw limited to playing catch
NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte called it "an understatement" to say he is frustrated with his recovery time from a left groin strain, now that the Yankees left-hander must go another week before even touching a mound.
A MRI performed after a bullpen session Tuesday revealed that Pettitte has a small, persistent strain, explaining why he is still experiencing discomfort when the intensity of his pitches increases. Pettitte can still play catch, but that is about all for now.
"I thought I was a week ahead of schedule, maybe," Pettitte said. "[Tuesday], I felt unbelievable. I felt great. I tried to turn the intensity up like I would if I was going to face a hitter. ... It's just not allowing me to push when I want to go real hard, and I'm getting some irritation in there."
Pettitte suffered the injury in a July 18 start against the Rays and believed there was "no doubt" he would be back to pitch in the Aug. 6-9 series against the Red Sox, or the Aug. 12-15 Royals series at the latest.
Obviously, both predictions fell flat, and Pettitte now figures that his best-case scenario might be about three weeks from this point, which might have him big league-ready to pitch in the Sept. 10-12 series at Texas.
"I'm trying now to not figure this out and plan it out the way I always do," Pettitte said. "I'm just trying to take it day by day and figure out exactly what to do."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects Pettitte will need two Minor League rehab starts to return to the team, and targeted the third week of September as a point when it would begin to become a concern if Pettitte would be ready to start a potential postseason game.
"The last thing you would want is for him to come back and say, 'I feel that I can only give you 60 pitches and I don't think my stuff is crisp,'" Girardi said. "That's not really going to help us.
"Until he goes out on a rehab start, to me, he's not where we need him to be. We talked about five weeks, and now we're beyond five weeks. Groins are very tricky for pitchers, especially when it's that push-off leg."
Berkman feels he's available to pinch-hit
NEW YORK -- Lance Berkman acknowledged that it probably wasn't the ideal choice in footwear, but after jamming his right ankle in Sunday's game at Kansas City, the Yankees designated hitter had no other options.
So Berkman tugged on the cowboy boot he wore to Kauffman Stadium and hoofed it to the team charter, ripping it off once he started feeling his ankle swell in the air. The discomfort is still there, but Berkman believes he can be considered to pinch-hit.
"I've turned this thing a couple of times," Berkman said. "I've had this issue since high school football. It's really never taken more than a day or two. This time, it's a little more swollen than it normally is."
Berkman said that he thinks he can get back to DHing by the weekend, but gamely offered that he'd pinch-hit now and "hobble on it, Kirk Gibson-style," which came as good news to manager Joe Girardi.
"We're probably going to have to pinch-run for him, but if he's available to me, that would be great," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.