Now, it looks as if it will be closer to six.
Pettitte joined the team in Kansas City on Saturday afternoon and went straight into a closed-door meeting with manager Joe Girardi. Afterward, although Pettitte said he felt "really good," Girardi said the 38-year-old left-hander was unlikely to return for "a couple of more weeks."
"We're going to have him take it easy for a couple days, just to make sure he's all right, and [trainer Gene Monahan] is going to evaluate him," Girardi said. "We're talking about him probably playing catch early next week, and if that goes OK then getting him back on a mound and doing a bullpen, and then maybe a simulated game, so yeah, you're talking a couple of weeks."
That would put Pettitte's return somewhere around the beginning of September. The schedule could be accelerated somewhat if Monahan determines that Pettitte can skip the bullpen session and go straight to a simulated game, followed by at least one rehab start. But any way it goes, there seems little chance that Pettitte can return in August.
"I felt like I was ahead of schedule," Pettitte said. "And then when I get on the mound, I found I'm not ahead of schedule, at least not mound-wise."
Pettitte also said: "Whenever I start to [throw] home and I want to do what I normally do, my body's saying, 'Don't do it.'"
Pettitte canceled a simulated game Thursday when he felt some stiffness in his left hip flexor, adjacent to the groin injury he suffered in the third inning of a start against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 18 at Yankee Stadium.
He wound up throwing 50 pitches on Friday, but not at full intensity. "I just didn't feel real comfortable," Pettitte said. "I didn't feel like I could really push the way I wanted to. It was more like just falling down the mound."
Still, Pettitte said he felt better than he expected to today. "I don't have a whole lot of soreness in my groin at all right now," he said.
At the time of his injury, Pettitte was enjoying the best start of his career, with an 11-2 record and team-leading 2.88 ERA.
"I just feel this is a little bump in the road," he said. "I'm just hoping the next time I get on the mound, whenever that'll be, it will be a lot better."