Pettitte Still Sidelined, Could Miss Start of Season

Frank NegronAnalyst IMarch 24, 2008

Andy Pettitte might have a problem with his back, thus causing him to possibly miss his first start of the regular season.

Pettitte has been sidelined since Thursday with what he says is stiffness in his back. He last pitched on March 17th, when he threw 65 pitches in 3 1/3 innings. At the time, Pettitte was dealing with an elbow issue, but reported no pain after his outing.

Now, the back spasms he is experiencing has set him back a few days, something that should cause Joe Girardi and the Yanks some concern. However Girardi did downplay his concern.

"I don't think it's a big deal," he said.

Andy skipped his start on Saturday because of the spasms. If he can play catch today and have a pain-free bullpen session tomorrow, then he is in line for either a minor league game on Friday in Tampa or to pitch against the Marlins in Miami Friday night. That would then have Pettitte on pace to make his regular season debut against Toronto on Wednesday, April 2nd.

"I was really feeling pretty good last night, and feeling good about it, what today was going to bring," Pettitte told reporters at Legends Field. "Then I woke up this morning and it was kind of tight on me again. I've already lost two days. I don't want to set it back any. I'm just going to wait until tomorrow and hopefully it's a lot better and I can feel comfortable playing catch."

If he still is unable to go the Yanks will take it on a day to day basis and if necessary, push back his first start of the season to later in the week.

"I'm definitely optimistic because I think it's going to clear up," Pettitte said "We've got options," he said. "It's just the first start of the season. I don't want to do that, but I want to make sure that I'm healthy and not go into the season with a bad back."

A healthy Pettitte is what the Yankees need. If they need to sit him out for the time being, then I say do it. He is much too valuable to the team going into this season and they need to be cautious.

In any event, the last few weeks of fragility with Andy should raise some concern amongst the Yanks. Any time he misses will put more of a burden on the rest of the rotation, one that will include youngsters Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes.

There's $16 million invested in that back, not to mention hopes and dreams of another championship in the Bronx. For Yankee fans, they all better hope Pettitte feels better sooner than later.

(Frank's articles can also be found at OnTheBlockNY and HotStoveNewYork.com )

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