09/12/10 2:38 AM ET
Pettitte set to return Sept. 19 in Baltimore
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Making a rehab start this week at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J., Pettitte was taken with Chase and Derby, a pair of golden retrievers who help out as "batboys" for the Thunder's games.
If Pettitte is due anything for his contributions, maybe the Thunder could let it go to the dogs.
"They do an awesome job. They can put it around their necks or something," Pettitte said, laughing.
Pettitte will get another chance to help the Thunder in their quest toward a title, slated to pitch on Tuesday for Trenton against the winner of the Altoona-Harrisburg series.
Finally free of discomfort from what was termed a "small, persistent strain" of his left groin, the veteran is in good spirits, saying he feels no soreness and is nearly ready to see a Major League lineup.
"I feel like I'm a healthy player and I'm good to go now," Pettitte said. "It's just a matter of building it back up."
Pettitte is expected to go five innings or 80 pitches against his next opponent, and then would slide into the Yankees' rotation on Sept. 19 against the Orioles in Baltimore.
"I want to try to feel great and mentally just start to get everything ready," Pettitte said. "There's no doubt I could pitch in a big league game, but they just do not want to do it. They want me to make another start and be careful. I'll try to be really good to go on Sunday in Baltimore."
Gardner to have MRI on right wrist
ARLINGTON -- Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner expects to have an MRI performed on his ailing right wrist, which has cropped up as a nagging issue recently.
Gardner's troubles with the wrist date back to a June 27 hit-by-pitch during the Yankees' Interleague series against the Dodgers, and the speedster mentioned to hitting coach Kevin Long that it has been bothering him again.
"I definitely haven't felt like it was 100 percent," Gardner said. "I can't say one way or the other whether it's affected me or not, but it's definitely not helping matters when I'm swinging the bat."
Gardner came into Saturday's game with six hits in his last 27 at-bats and was pinch-hit for by Austin Kearns in the sixth inning after going 0-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances.
"It first started when he got hit in L.A., and then it went away for a while," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Now it's come back a little bit. He said for a couple of weeks it's been bothering him a little bit, but it's been manageable."
Gardner was not slated to play Sunday anyway, and said he expects to have the MRI performed on Monday before the Yankees open a three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Gardner said he "should be fine" and knows there is no break in the wrist, but he would prefer to be cautious.
"Being the wrist, you saw what happened to Nick Johnson," Gardner said. "It's not something to mess around with. I just want to make sure it's OK."
Slumping Jeter out of Saturday's lineup
ARLINGTON -- The batting average that will be displayed for Derek Jeter's next at-bat promises to be his lowest of the season to date, but the Yankees shortstop didn't see it in Saturday's starting lineup.
Continuing to fight a persistent slump that has him with just seven hits in 61 at-bats, Jeter was kept out of New York's batting order against the Rangers, one night after the captain went 1-for-7 in a 13-inning loss at Texas to drop his average to .260.
"At this point in the season, you're really not going to do too much to change where you are," Jeter said. "Now, you just try to get a good swing going. We've got three weeks left, I believe, and the postseason hopefully. That's what your goal is."
Jeter said that he did not necessarily need a day off, and noted that he can't get more hits by not being in the lineup, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that resting Jeter was more as a nod to New York's five-hour-plus contest Friday than the offensive skid.
"He's struggling. I don't think there's any question that he's struggling," Girardi said. "You always have that decision -- does he need a day off to get back on track or does he need to keep playing? You never really know the answer. But today's day off is more that we played five hours last night."
A career .317 hitter entering the season, Jeter's dip to nearly 60 percentage points below his lifetime average is a concern, Girardi said. And there have been recent chances to get it right.
In the 12th inning Tuesday, Jeter batted with the potential go-ahead run at third base and one out, managing only a ground ball to first base that did not move Brett Gardner home.
"Any time you scuffle, it seems like balls you hit good, they catch," Jeter said. "Balls you don't hit good, they catch. Balls you don't hit, they catch. That's just how it goes. I wish I had an explanation."
Jeter is coming off a homestand when he was 5-for-36 (.139), but he promises that he won't bunch them all up and allow it to snowball.
"The situation I'm in right now, I can't bring all the games together, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "You just try to take it one game at a time. I felt good when we were at home. [Friday] wasn't so good.
"I've played this game long enough. There's times when you don't feel good at the plate, but you still find ways to get hits. I haven't been doing that."
Girardi has resisted any outside cries to drop Jeter in the lineup during the skid, pointing out that there were similar suggestions when Mark Teixeira slumped in April and June -- Teixeira rebounded and is now the only Major Leaguer with 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored.
Jeter may not have enough time to completely salvage a down season after he enjoyed a renaissance 2009 campaign, but Girardi said that he has faith in Jeter's ability to deal with the situation and keep working toward more promising results.
"He's very professional about what he does, and I think Derek is very good about turning the page from day to day," Girardi said. "He doesn't let one at-bat affect him to the next. He's went through a tough streak here and there's human emotions that are involved. You have to deal with them and I think he's doing a great job."
With Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre eliminated from postseason play, infielders Juan Miranda and Kevin Russo will join the team before Sunday's game. ... Jorge Posada (mild concussion) pinch-hit on Saturday and grounded into a double play. He could catch Sunday. Posada pinch-hit in the 13th inning Friday and lined out. ... Robinson Cano (94 runs, 95 RBIs) and Mark Teixeira (103 runs, 100 RBIs) were baseball's only teammates with at least 90 runs and 90 RBIs entering play Saturday.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.