New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte X-Rays Are Encouraging, September Return Likely

Doug RushSenior Analyst IAugust 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on June 27, 2012  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When we last heard any news on Andy Pettitte's rehab from a broken fibula, the team had to shut down the 40-year-old's rehab process.

After healing faster than expected, Pettitte suffered a setback when he experienced swelling in his ankle, which caused the Yankees to tell him to turn down the dial.

The longtime Yankees pitcher felt that he pushed it too hard when they were in Seattle, which may have caused the swelling.

On Sunday, Pettitte went for X-rays to determine how his fibula was healing, and according to Peter Botte and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the results were encouraging.

According to the story, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that though Pettitte is healing as expected, he hasn't fully recovered.

However, the Yankees lefty has resumed swimming, riding a stationary bike and light throwing in the batting cage.

You can tell Pettitte is anxious to return to the team to help it make the playoffs. He's eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 28, but the team has had a Sept. 1 date in mind for Pettitte to return off the disabled list.

Pettitte was 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts with the Yankees and was pitching well against the Cleveland Indians on June 27 before he was struck in the ankle by a line drive off the bat of Casey Kotchman.

Pettitte attempted to convince Yankees manager Joe Girardi to let him continue to pitch in the game. But after one live pitch, Pettitte was in so much pain the Yankees skipper had to pull him, which led to the team discovering the broken fibula.

The Yankees rotation has managed with Freddy Garcia in Pettitte's spot, and because of the encouraging news on Pettitte's ankle, there's a good chance the Yankees are going to go with what they have now in the rotation until their lefty comes off the DL.

With Pettitte in the rotation, the rest of the starters were pitching well and were all pushing each other to continue their success in the month of June.

The Yankees have remained in first place, but the presence of Pettitte in the rotation has been missing. He's been the missing key and ingredient to the team that it needs for a run in October.

With  a healthy and effective Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes, the Yankees have a legitimate chance to win in October.

In 2011, they went with Garcia as the Game 2 starter of the ALDS, and he faltered against the Tigers. Pettitte, however, is a difference-maker.

At the time of his injury, not only was he pitching well, but he was at times dominating hitters and striking them out.

In the 58.2 innings he had pitched, he had 59 strikeouts, averaging a strikeout per inning, which is really good considering he was retired for all of 2011.

Cashman and Girardi know how important Pettitte is to an October run, which is why they aren't forcing his return.

They want him fully healed and ready to go for September and, more importantly, October.

If there were any signs that Pettitte might not be able to return in 2012. the Yankees likely would have made a trade before July 31 or made a waiver claim in August.

But because Pettitte is still on track for a September return, Garcia will likely keep his spot, and the Yankees will go as is with the rotation until Pettitte returns.

Yankee fans all over have to feel good that Pettitte's rehab and road to recovery has taken another step in the right direction.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.