- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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BOSTON -- Andy Pettitte is sore. But not, he says, in the area of his pitching elbow that caused him to exit his last start after just five innings and 77 pitches.
"I am not very happy at all," Pettitte said, moments after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made official what seemed to be an inevitability when Pettitte left a game against the Orioles Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, that he would be skipped in the rotation for his next start, scheduled for Tuesday in Detroit.
"Andy said he felt good today," Girardi said Friday afternoon before the opener of a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "But we feel it's in the best interests of him and our whole club that he skip a start. It's one thing to feel good when you're just sitting there. It's another thing when you're out there releasing the baseball."
Pettitte, off to one of the best starts of his 16-year career at 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA, left the game Wednesday with what he described as tightness near his left elbow, which was surgically repaired for a torn flexor tendon in 2004. An MRI revealed no structural damage and Pettitte seemed especially peeved that the decision to skip him had been made without him having been given the opportunity to demonstrate that he could throw pain free.
"I would have loved to be able to come in and throw, play catch or something and see how I feel," said Pettitte, who turns 38 on June 15. "I understand why they did it, it's just hard when I feel really good and I don't feel like anything's bothering me at all. If I'm gonna be skipped, I'd like to be skipped when I'm hurting."
Pettitte said the trouble spots were on the top of his left forearm below the elbow, and near the triceps and above it. He said his arm troubled him throwing curveballs early in Wednesday's game, loosened up after a couple of innings, but pained him again in the fifth, after which he came out of the game with the Yankees leading, 6-1.
They held on to win, 7-5, after some bullpen shakiness, earning Pettitte his fourth win of the season. An MRI was performed after the game and showed no changes in the surgically-repaired tendon.
"Any time you're talking about an elbow and you start feeling tightness anywhere, your hair stands up on the back of your head," Pettitte said. "That's all I was concerned about. I'll pitch with anything else. As long as I knew my ligament was OK, I could've kept pitching for sure."
Pettitte's spot will be taken temporarily by Javier Vazquez, who is himself being moved back one more day from an already delayed return to the mound after being skipped in the rotation due to ineffectiveness for Friday night's game against the Red Sox. Now, the Yankees rotation for the Detroit series is Sergio Mitre on Monday, Vazquez on Tuesday, Phil Hughes on Wednesday and CC Sabathia on Thursday.
Pitching coach Dave Eiland said the decision to skip Pettitte was made on the recommendation of the Yankees' medical staff. "The decision was made and that's it," Eiland said. "The doctors and the medical people know a heck of a lot more about this than we do. This was their recommendation and we're going to go with it because they know what they're talking about."
Girardi said there was no treatment or rehab schedule for Pettitte yet, but that he hoped the left-hander would return to pitch in the upcoming series against the Twins, which begins May 14 at Yankee Stadium.
"We'll start to map it out now," Girardi said. "It's not easy when you have someone with a competitive nature who has pitched as well as Andy. You want to run him out there, but you have to remind yourself to think about the long-term. Our hope is missing (one) start will clear it up."
Said Eiland: "If he had said, 'OK, great,' I'd be a little worried but that's not Andy Pettitte so I knew that wasn't the reaction we were going to get. If he wasn't mad, I'd be a lot more concerned than I am now."