Pettitte getting closer

April, 21, 2012
4/21/12
3:10
PM ET
On the same day the Yankees revealed that Michael Pineda's rehab was not going well, the good news is that Andy Pettitte's return to the rotation is on or close to schedule after a five-inning, 68-pitch extended spring training outing on Friday in whihc he allowed four hits, two runs, walked no one and struck out four.

"It’s getting close to a reality now,'' Joe Girardi said before today's game with the Red Sox. "I think it’s realistic to look at three more minor-league starts and then you make a real evaluation of where he’s at and what he needs.''

Meaning he could return to the Yankees if not May 1, his originally projected date, then by around May 10. Depending on how he comes out of yesterday's start, Pettitte could go again on Wednesday and throw as many as 85 pitches, with the aim of having him throw one start of between 95-100 pitches before being reactivated.

"We need to see, can he run off four starts in a row on normal rest?,'' Girardi said. "I believe he can.''

Aside from Ivan Nova and, in his most recent start, CC Sabathia, the way the Yankees starting pitching has performed so far this season makes Pettitte's return not just desirable, but essential.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146