New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte Passes Next Test by Throwing Off Mound

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst ISeptember 1, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first-inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 5, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The New York Yankees enter the month of September hitting a little bit of a rough patch.

They lost to the Baltimore Orioles 6-1 on Friday night, which trimmed their lead in the AL East to just two games.

However, the team got great news that afternoon regarding the status of Andy Pettitte, who continues to be on the comeback trail as he recovers from a fractured fibula.

Ian Begley from ESPN New York reported that the 40-year-old threw off a mound for the first time since June 27, with Pettitte saying he felt really good in the process.

Pettitte threw about 20 pitches off the mound at Yankee Stadium. He will then meet with doctors on Saturday to make sure everything checks out fine.

If everything is a go, the next step should be increasing the pitch total in a bullpen session to really see how his ankle is holding up.

Spencer Fordin of talked to the pitcher on Friday, and while Pettitte didn't give it his complete effort, he was getting back into the groove of being a pitcher.

"It was huge," said Pettitte. "I'm sure that you guys talking to me could tell that I was getting a little paranoid about how this thing's going to feel. Today was good. I didn't get out there and push off as hard as I could and let it fly, but I was just introducing myself back to the mound. I felt really comfortable, so that was a good thing. And my arm felt just free and easy. That was another good thing."

Pettitte was 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA in nine starts with 59 strikeouts in 58.2 innings for the Yankees before he took the line drive off his ankle against the Cleveland Indians back on June 27.

With the Yankees struggling heading into September, getting Pettitte back healthy would be a gigantic boost for this team, and the Yankees could really use a spark right about now.

Pettitte is still being cautious due to the setback in late July when the team was in Seattle and his ankle swelled, which caused him to be shut it down for about 7-10 days.

But Pettitte's recent work from the mound is another encouraging step toward getting the all-time leader in playoff wins back on the mound in September. Pettitte is eyeing at least two starts in the regular season to get himself back into the swing of things before the playoffs.

Before talking postseason, however, the Yankees first need to get to October by holding their lead in the division.

However, Friday's news on Pettitte is just what everyone with the Yankees needed to hear. Now the question becomes; how long until we see Pettitte back with the Yankees in 2012?

Stay tuned, Yankee Universe.