New York Yankees: Bombers Are Smart in Being Cautious with Andy Pettitte Return

Doug RushSenior Analyst IAugust 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees in action against the Kansas City Royals on May 23, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

There is nobody who wants to see Andy Pettitte back on the mound more than I do.

While he is my all-time favorite player, I also know how important he is to the Yankees in 2012.

The New York Yankees are aware of his importance to their championship future, which is why they brought him in on a one-year, $2.5 million deal back in March.

Pettitte had been pitching great up until June 27, which is when he suffered a fractured fibula, which initially was going to sideline him for 6-8 weeks.

As of August 16, we are on week seven of Pettitte's injury, and according to Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times, the Yankees are being "overcautious" in their approach for his rehabilitation.

“I know now that if I have another setback, that we’ve got serious problems and my season’s probably over,” Pettitte said Tuesday. “Now we’re probably going to be overcautious and try to figure out what we can do, just to make sure I’m back, and what I need to get ready.”

Pettitte's ankle swelling up from being pressed too hard—while the team was in Seattle—may have pushed Pettitte's return date back at least another 7-10 days.

Originally, the Yankees and Pettitte were hopeful on a September 1 target date for him to return to the rotation, but with that setback, mid-September could be more likely.

And now, Pettitte even knows that if he has another setback in his road to recovery, he's likely done for the rest of 2012, making his return out of retirement a huge disappointment.

But bringing Pettitte back for the regular season is not what the Yankees are looking for. It's getting Pettitte on the mound in October starting in crucial playoff games for the Yankees.

Thus far, they've been able to manage getting by with Freddy Garcia pitching in his spot, but Garcia is nowhere near Pettitte's level when it comes to pitching in the playoffs.

Make no mistake about it; the Yankees NEED Pettitte come October, which is why they are making the right move in being cautious with this ankle injury and his rehab from it.

Two years ago during Pettitte's last season with the team, he landed on the DL with a groin injury in July of 2010 and didn't return to the team until September 19 against the Baltimore Orioles.

He only made three starts before the playoffs and shook off the rust, but in the playoffs, Pettitte reverted back to being the great lefty the Yankees are used to seeing in October.

So, for now, Pettitte will continue to heal his ankle and then wait and see when he can start throwing off a mound and get ready to pitch again for the Yankees.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.