Pettitte sets sights on May arrival in Bronx
Left-hander's next step: pitching live batting practice on Friday
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees say it is realistic to think Andy Pettitte could pitch in a Grapefruit League game this spring, but the veteran left-hander isn't setting that as his goal. He'd much rather be in the big leagues by May.
Pettitte, 39, will take an accelerated step forward on Friday, pitching live batting practice for the first time since ending his retirement and inking a $2.5 million Minor League deal last week. Pettitte acknowledged some surprise that the Yankees already feel he's good to go.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't think that was probably where they'd have me, because I just know how conservative they usually are," Pettitte said. "I definitely feel good about doing it. We'll throw Friday, and as we continue to go, we're just going to see how I feel and make the adjustments from there. We'll try not to push it too hard."
Keeping May in mind as a target date has helped Pettitte take a more measured approach, a considerable change for a pitcher who historically has tried to rush back whenever he has been on a rehab timetable.
"I realize it's going to be right around the first of May if everything goes good," Pettitte said. "I'm just kind of good with it. You realize there's no reason to rush. I'm going to be down here and just try to get as prepared as I possibly can."
The Yankees want Pettitte to have a full spring of six to seven weeks to get ready, and though manager Joe Girardi said it is possible Pettitte can get into a Grapefruit League game by the time camp breaks, Girardi said it is unlikely Pettitte will see as many as five innings.
"We have a schedule and we'll stick to the schedule," Girardi said. "We have time. We want to give him what is considered a normal Spring Training. The best way to do it is to communicate."
Pettitte acknowledged that he felt some soreness in his lower half after going through a workout on Wednesday in which he had balls hit back to the mound and was asked to cover first base. As much as Pettitte tried to simulate his workload by throwing bullpens at home in Texas, running in the Florida sun is a different animal.
"Once you put the spikes on, it's completely different," Pettitte said. "You cannot train for that. It's just good general soreness in my legs. It usually takes about a week or so to get that out, from what I remember."
Pettitte is scheduled to get on the mound Friday for a 9:15 a.m. ET session, throwing to Minor League catcher Ryan Baker. He will face Walter Ibarra and Dan Brewer, also Yankees Minor Leaguers, and Pettitte said that he expects to feel a rush of adrenaline even from that relaxed setting.
"Whether it's BP or not, you don't want guys just waffling everything you throw in there," Pettitte said. "It'll be good. I'm looking forward to it. I definitely feel like I'm ready to do that."
The last time Pettitte faced live pitching with a purpose, he said, came in November, when he went to the Dominican Republic with a home-school team from Texas and was asked to pitch in a game.
"I threw to hitters then, but I hadn't even hardly played catch or anything," Pettitte said. "I was just throwing batting practice and changeups and flipping things in there nice and easy. [But] I was trying to get them out, for sure."
Pettitte said it isn't important that he pitches in a Grapefruit League game this spring. He recalled that in 2010, it seemed most of his spring work was done in the bullpen with coach Mike Harkey standing in as a hitter.
Besides, if all goes according to the Yankees' plans, Pettitte will have plenty of time to see the American League's best later this year.
"Part of me would like to face big league hitters, but the other part of me is like, 'It doesn't matter,'" Pettitte said. "A good pitch is a good pitch, and it really doesn't matter who's in there. It's a matter of just executing the pitch. I try not to pay any attention to who the hitter is in there, anyway."