We still don't know when Andy Pettitte will pitch again this year, but already, the Yankees' 40-year-old lefty is thinking about 2013.
Asked if he would rule out a return to the Yankees next season, Pettitte said, "No, I wouldn't. I mean, I'll go home again and talk to my family about it and pray about it and really I'll do what I feel like is the right thing to do. I really can't tell you right now that there's no way I'm (not) going to play."
Pettitte, sidelined since mid-July with a fractured left ankle, played catch today after throwing off flat ground on Monday, and proclaimed himself more encouraged than he has been in quite a while. "I am (encouraged), for sure," he said. "I('ve) been feeling really good for the last five or six days but I was feeling really good in Seattle, too, you know? I might get too over-excited when I’m injured and try to do a little bit too much. I been trying to take it slow.''
Pettitte suffered a setback last month while throwing in Seattle that caused the injury to swell up, but he said the latest X-rays show "I’m pretty much healed. Now it’s just a matter of not having a setback, you know?''
Pettitte could not put a timetable on his return, although he does plan to throw off flat ground again tomorrow, only this time, wearing spikes, which will allow him to push off his ankle with something approaching game-day intensity. "I’ll try to push a little bit harder tomorrow because I really felt good after I threw yesterday," he said. "I'm just trying to be conservative but I also realize that I need to try to build some arm strength up so that’s what I got to do."
With the minor-league season coming to an end in September, it is undetermined whether Pettitte will go on a rehab assignment or will have to make do with throwing live BP and simulated games to his teammates.
"Whatever it is, I feel like it will be good for me," he said. "I know what I have to do to get ready. So I haven’t looked that far yet. Whatever we have to do, whether it’s throw to our guys in a simulated game that will be sufficient enough for me. As long as I'm throwing my pitches and they’re doing what I want them to do, that’s the most important thing for me at this stage of my career I would say."
Like Joe Girardi on Monday, Pettitte said he was not surprised that his former friend and teammate Roger Clemens was attempting a comeback, at age 50, with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. "He's just the ultimate competitor," Pettitte said. "I know he loves to compete and I wish him nothing but the best."
He said he could understand Clemens' desire to play ball, and even attempt to take one more shot at pitching in the big-leagues. "If anybody could do it," he said, "He's someone that could pull it off."
And he acknowledged that because of his injury, his own comeback season with the Yankees has left him wanting more. "It's definitely (unsatisfying), so far," he said. "Coming back here was to try to help us win another championship, and I still have an opportunity to do that."
Pettitte's success up until his injury has contributed to his feeling that this season has not been a fulfilling experience for him. "It seemed like things don't work out like you envision them in life," he said. "I figured coming in here I'd pitch this year and fully exhaust myself of whatever I had left in me as far as for baseball or whatever. And as of this moment right now, I want to pitch more right now than I did when I first came to the big leagues."
Pettitte was 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA at the time of his injury. "I'm extremely happy with my decision to come back, it's been great being back, I love every minute of it except obviously being on the DL," he said.
And he said that he felt much as he did after the 2010 season -- undecided about whether he wanted to come back again next year. "I'll have to think about it as soon as the season is over and try to figure that out," he said. "I'll go home again and talk to my family about it and pray about it and I'll do what I feel like is the right thing to do."