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03/27/08 3:33 PM ET

Pettitte to pitch in Minors game Sunday

Southpaw could start Yankees' fourth or fifth game of season

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday in Tampa, which would line him up to pitch in New York's fourth or fifth game of the season.

Originally slated to pitch the Yankees' second game of the season, Pettitte's spring has been interrupted by back spasms. He reported no ill effects from a 36-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and will remain behind in Tampa as the Yankees travel on to play two more exhibition games on Friday and Saturday.

"I woke up this morning and I can definitely say it felt as good today as it did yesterday, and maybe even a little bit better," Pettitte said Thursday afternoon. "The bullpen didn't set me back at all, so that was positive."

The Yankees' Double-A and Triple-A farm clubs are scheduled to play in an intrasquad Minor League contest on Sunday. Pettitte would pitch for Double-A Trenton, facing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup. Fifth starter Ian Kennedy is also scheduled to pitch that day.

"We're just going to look to see how [Pettitte] feels Sunday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We just want to make sure he feels OK."

Girardi said that Pettitte is expected to throw about 85 pitches in the Minor League game.

"I think it's fairly important so we know he can get close to 100 [pitches] his first start," Girardi said. "His bullpen was good [Wednesday] and his arm felt great. In the long run, this might help him."

Pettitte would tentatively start on either April 4 or 5 against the Rays, with Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Phil Hughes scheduled to start in New York's first three games. Pettitte plans to throw off a bullpen mound again on Friday, but has not pitched in a game since March 17.

"I don't know how my arm strength will be," Pettitte said. "If they want me to pitch up there, I want to pitch up there."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.