Pregame notes: Where's Andy's cutter?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Pettitte will try to snap a two-game losing streak, and three-game winless streak, tonight against the Royals, a team he has mastered over the course of his career, with a 14-3 lifetime record and 3.44 ERA.

But it is not just the Royals Pettitte will be fighting tonight; it is also his own signature pitch, the cutter, that Pettitte will be looking to regain mastery of.

After his last two outings, and particularly, a nightmare outing against the Houston Astros in which he allowed seven earned runs in 4-1/3 innings, Pettitte has sounded truly baffled at how his best pitch oculd suddenly desert him, and expressed concern over how to get it back.

This afternoon, Joe Girardi downplayed Pettitte's concerns while acknowledging that he, too, needs to see what happens tonight before making a judgment.

"He just needs to keep throwing it until he finds it," Girardi said. "It’s not uncommon for a guy to struggle with a pitch for a couple of outings or the beginning of a game, and I think the one thing you can’t do is get away from it. He needs to find times to throw it when you don't think you’re going to get in trouble with it."

Asked if he was concerned because Pettitte was concerned, Girardi said, "Well, you would think Andy would be able to overcome that. It’s probably because he’s never felt it before it’s probably a little mind-boggling to him. It’s probably no different from most pitchers feel when you lose a pitch, but he’s not afraid to express it. So let’s just see what happens tonight."

Pettitte has not started at Kauffman Stadium since the Royals home opener on April 10, 2009, but it was a good one: 7IP, 3H and just one earned run in a 4-1 Yankees victory.

Other tidbits:

-- Girardi said Mark Teixeira (wrist tendon) continues to hit on the field in Tampa and "feels good."

-- Kevin Youkilis (lower back) continues to do "rotational exercises." He, too, "feels good," according to the manager.

-- Ivan Nova, who started a game in Tampa on Wednesday but did not look sharp, threw a bullpen session yesterday and came out OK.

-- Girardi said Alex Rodriguez is doing some tee hitting and light jogging in Tampa in his recovery from hip surgery.

-- Derek Jeter (broken ankle) is riding an exercise bike in New York, but Girardi said the Yankees still have no timetable for when he will increase his level of activity.