- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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Even Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson, was involved, serving as the home plate umpire.
In an empty stadium on Saturday morning, the Yankees were finding out if the injured Pettitte and Rodriguez could be counted on this October.
After the three-inning simulated game, the verdict was they are both closer to a return.
"I felt good," Rodriguez said. "[Pettitte] looked great. I'm glad I don't have to face him every day."
Rodriguez was activated Sunday. He had been on the disabled list since Aug. 21 with a strained calf.
Pettitte may be able to pitch in a major league game by around Sept. 13. Pettitte's been out since July 19 with a groin injury.
The Yankees have not decided what day Pettitte will next pitch, but it won't be a major league start. Pettitte hopes to throw in a minor league game Wednesday. He could then pitch for the Yankees five days later. Pettitte felt better than ever about being ready for October.
"It is a step in the right direction," Pettitte said.
Whatever Pettitte's next step is, he will likely throw 65 pitches and then could return on a 75-80 pitch limit in his major league return, which could be Sept. 13, on the road against the Rays.
As for Mr. October, Jackson did not have full umpiring gear on as he stood behind the batting cage, deciphering if Pettitte's pitches were strikes or balls.
Between A-Rod's at-bats, Jackson -- who is a special adviser for the Yankees -- offered Rodriguez tips.
After outfielder Greg Golson took some pitches against Pettitte, Rodriguez stepped in. He looked at several pitches before hitting what would have been a grounder to second. More importantly, Rodriguez ran hard down the line, but not at full speed. He thinks this may be the norm for him the rest of the way.
Rodriguez was unofficially 1-for-4 off Pettitte. The one hit was a single. Jackson punched out A-Rod on a Pettitte fastball.
"It was a Reggie strike zone," Rodriguez said.
Saturday, Rodriguez took the field at 9:15 a.m., taking grounders. Before he faced Pettitte, Rodriguez moved to the batting cage, where he launched a few homers to the empty blue seats in right and left field.
2dInterview by Buster Olney
1dDanny Knobler, Special to ESPN.com