Astros give him more time to recover

Updated: April 21, 2004, 7:45 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte will be held out of his scheduled Friday start against Colorado to give his strained left elbow more time to heal.

Pettitte, eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday, instead will pitch a simulated game Friday at Houston's spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla. He said he should be ready for his next start, April 29 at Pittsburgh.

 Andy Pettitte

Pettitte went through another extended bullpen session -- about 80 pitches -- before Houston's game against St. Louis on Tuesday. He said there was no pain but he still felt a little twinge in his elbow during the session.

"I thought I was pitching in Colorado for sure," Pettitte said. "But I can understand the decision. It's probably the smart thing to do. There's no need to go out there and do something stupid."

The Astros decided to push back Pettitte rather than have him pitch at Denver, which is expecting chilly weather and possibly snow later in the week.

Pettitte injured his elbow while trying to check his swing in his debut with the hometown Astros on April 6 against San Francisco.

"Whatever I did on that check swing is what I'm still feeling," Pettitte said.

Manager Jimy Williams was adamant that this decision wasn't a setback in Pettitte's rehabilitation.

"We're not going to prove anything by pitching him right now," Williams said. "We're just going to back off a little more and hopefully he can make the next start. He's not quite ready to pitch in a big league game right now."

Right-hander Brandon Duckworth will start in place of Pettitte against the Rockies on Friday.

Pettitte signed a three-year, $31.5 million free-agent contract in December after spending nine years with the New York Yankees.

In his first start with Houston, he allowed six runs and 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings in the loss to the Giants.

Pettitte went 21-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 33 starts last season in New York. His last stint on the disabled list came from April 21 to June 14, 2002, when he was out with left elbow tendinitis.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press