Yanks' Pettitte has tired left shoulder

Updated: September 15, 2009, 11:31 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees hope a little rest now will go a long way toward a healthy October.

Pettitte's next turn in the Yankees' rotation will be skipped because the left-hander has a tired pitching shoulder. He was slated to start Wednesday night against Toronto. Instead, Chad Gaudin will get the ball and Pettitte will be pushed back to Monday night at the Los Angeles Angels.

Pettitte
Pettitte

"I think they just think that with the rest, skipping a start, that that should clear it up," Pettitte said Tuesday. "I definitely don't want to be standing out on the mound in a postseason game or a game during the year that might matter a little bit more, with my arm aching a little bit."

Pain in the same shoulder hampered Pettitte during the second half last season and he went 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts. He said last year's problems began with an ache similar to what he felt in his most recent outing, but he's not worried because he has no pain this time.

Still, the Yankees want to be careful with a proven playoff pitcher who could be crucial to their World Series aspirations. The 37-year-old lefty has been one of the team's most consistent starters all year, going 13-6 with a 4.14 ERA for the AL East leaders. He has thrown 178 1/3 innings in 29 starts.

"It is a concern," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's why we chose to skip him. We want to knock this out sooner than later."

Girardi and Pettitte both said the Yankees simply want to nip the problem before it gets any worse.

"I am confident that this will work," Girardi said. "It's important that we have Andy the whole way."

New York can afford to be cautious thanks to its comfortable cushion in the division. The Yankees began the night 7½ games ahead of second-place Boston and six in front of the Angels in the race for the league's best record and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Pettitte reported feeling fatigue in his shoulder during his last start, when he threw 103 pitches while laboring through five innings Friday night against Baltimore.

Rain delayed the start of that game for 87 minutes and Pettitte pitched in wet, windy, messy conditions. He said it's possible the poor weather contributed to his shoulder fatigue, but there's no way to know for sure.

"I didn't have the command the last two innings," he said. "My cutter was flat."

Pettitte said he threw a light bullpen Monday and "felt great." He said he probably won't play catch for a couple of days, but then he'll throw his regular bullpen sessions this weekend in preparation for Monday's start.

"We'll watch very carefully Monday. If we feel that he starts to fatigue, then we've got to get him out," Girardi said. "But we feel that this is going to knock it out."

Girardi said Pettitte's shoulder showed full strength when he was examined by doctors.

"Everything came out great," the manager said.

Pettitte said he hasn't received a cortisone shot or anything like that -- but if rest doesn't work, there are plenty of other treatment options.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press