Keeping Pettitte healthy a must for rest of 2013

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees welcomed Andy Pettitte back to the rotation last night after he missed 18 days with a strained trap muscle. It was the first time he had to be placed on the DL this year but the second time he had to miss starts — a stiff lower back sidelined him for more than a week back in April. Rainouts and off-days allowed the Yankees to skip his turn without much of a problem early in the season.

Less than two weeks away from his 41st birthday, Pettitte is the oldest regular starter in the big leagues by almost one full year — former Yankee Bartolo Colon won’t turn 41 until next May. With age comes injury concerns, and not just the increased risk of getting hurt. It takes older players a longer time to recover as well. In an effort to stay healthier, Andy has considered modifying his between-starts routine a bit.

“He’s talked about backing off a little bit,” said Joe Girardi to Dan Martin over the weekend. “But it’s hard when you’re a creature of habit. When you’ve had as much success as he’s had, it’s hard to change what you do, but I think it’s important that he does it.”

Pettitte usually throws two bullpen sessions between starts, which is something he would look to change. That said, he is concerned about how it would affect him on the mound every five days. He might feel stronger physically, but it could come at the expense of losing rhythm and feel for pitches. That would be very bad since he’s a finesse pitcher.

“Truthfully, I don’t know,” said Andy when asked how he would react to changing his routine. “I’m used to doing two bullpens. We’ll just how it goes … I know what I’ve got to do mentally to prepare for this game and I understand where they’re coming from, of course, because of my age and how much time it takes and the adjustments you have to make as you get older.”

Regardless of how they do it, one of the Yankees’ top priorities for the rest of the season should be keeping Pettitte healthy and in the rotation. If that means cutting back to one bullpen between starts or even limiting him to 90-100 pitches per start instead of 100-110, so be it. The team lives and dies with its pitching, and Andy is one of their three best at worst. Obviously keeping him on the field is much easier said than done regardless of his age.

Hiroki Kuroda, the third oldest starter in the big leagues at 38, modified his offseason routine in an effort to stay fresh deeper into the season after hitting a wall last September. I don’t know if Pettitte did anything differently this winter, but he’s clearly thinking about doing something differently during the season. As good as Vidal Nuno looked in his three spot starts, Andy is the guy the Yankees want in their rotation right now and they need him to stop missing starts every month. He’s too vital to the team’s success to be a 20-22 start guy than a 30-32 start guy.

Yankees activate Andy Pettitte, send Brennan Boesch to Triple-A

As expected, the Yankees have activated Andy Pettitte (trap) off the DL. He will start tonight’s game. To clear room on the roster, Brennan Boesch was send down to Triple-A. The Bombers are now carrying a normal 12-man pitching staff and four-man bench.

Oh, and Lyle Overbay is starting in right field against the Indians tonight. So that’s where the Yankees are at right now.

Andy Pettitte scheduled to start Monday

Joe Girardi announced this afternoon that Andy Pettitte will rejoin the rotation on Monday against the Indians. He’s been on the DL with a trap strain for about two weeks now, and he threw a 75-pitch simulated game earlier this week. I’m guessing Vidal Nuno, tonight’s starter, will be sent down tomorrow to clear one spot for Mark Teixeira/Kevin Youkilis, with Pettitte then stepping into the rotation spot next time around.

Going back in time with old scouting reports

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point recently the Baseball Hall of Fame partnered with the Scout of the Year Foundation to create a free and searchable online database of old scouting reports. The data is very incomplete — it doesn’t include every player and it only goes back so far — and the database itself can be slow and a bit of a pain, but those are minor nuisances compared to the wealth of information available.

Thanks to the database, we can look back at what professional talent evaluators — people who do this for a living — had to say about our favorite players once upon a time. For example, here are some bits and pieces of reports from various teams about a young high school senior from Michigan named Derek Jeter back in 1992:

Derek Jeter Scouting Reports

You can click every image in those post for a larger view, and I highly recommend you do just that.

Within those report snippets, future first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter is described as having:

  • a good face
  • a hi butt
  • an impact both offensively and defensively
  • makeup 2b a star
  • some hot dog in him

Once upon a time, Jeter was a showoff. Wrap your head around that. All of the reports agreed he was a future star though, and in the end that is what was most important.

After the jump — lots of images and I don’t want to cripple anyone’s computer — are some opinions on Alex Rodriguez back from 1993, when he was a high school senior:

[Read more…]

Yankees place Andy Pettitte on the DL, recall Vidal Nuno

The Yankees have placed left-hander Andy Pettitte on the 15-day DL with a strained left trap. He left last night’s start with what was described as tightness. Fellow southpaw Vidal Nuno has been recalled from Triple-A to take the roster spot.

Pettitte, 40, was “pretty spasmed up” according to Brian Cashman. He’s pitched to 3.83 ERA and 4.12 FIP in 49.1 innings so far, numbers that are basically vintage Andy. He missed a start with lower back tightness a few weeks ago, but the trap is up higher, between the neck and shoulder blade. The 25-year-old Nuno has throw eight shutout innings with the big league team his year, include five in a spot start against the Indians earlier this week.

Update: Andy Pettitte leaves game with tight left trap

10:53pm: After the game, Joe Girardi said the Yankees aren’t too concerned about the injury. They just took Pettitte out as a precaution. It’s unclear if he’ll make his next start, however.

9:51pm: Pettitte left the game with a tight left trap, the team announced. That’s the muscle in the upper back, kinda between the neck and shoulder blade. No word on a timetable or tests or anything.

8:32pm: Andy Pettitte left tonight’s game with an apparent injury with two outs in the fifth. He threw 79 pitches and struck out the two batters he faced in the inning. Replays didn’t show anything obvious, yet Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to chat. Pettitte left the game without throwing any test pitches. He missed a start last month with a stiff back. Stay tuned for updates.

Pettitte’s next start pushed back to Friday

The Yankees have pushed Andy Pettitte‘s next start back to Friday, Joe Girardi confirmed this afternoon. Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes will start against the Diamondbacks next week (in that order) following Monday’s off-day.

Pettitte, 40, had his last start pushed back after his back stiffened up on him last week. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, and Girardi confirmed the decision to push Andy back again was just an extra precaution. The Yankees could push Pettitte back one more day to Saturday if needed (Hiroki Kuroda could start Friday on normal rest), but if he can’t go on Saturday they’ll need to come up with another starter for that game.