Still wondering why New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi used young right-hander Phil Hughes in Games 2 and 6 of the ALCS, and pushed veteran Andy Pettitte back to Game 3?
Well, Girardi explained today that Pettitte was battling both the back and leg injuries that bothered him during the season, and needed the extra time off.
“Andy Pettitte pitched Thursday against Minnesota. In the seventh inning, Andy’s back started locking up a little bit. His hamstrings got really tight. He gutted it through the seventh inning for us and got through it. He wanted to go back out for the eighth. I think he had about 88 pitches. And I said, ‘No, you’re not going back out. You’ve done your job.’
“He came in on Friday and his back was locked up. Saturday was his bullpen because he basically had to prepare for Game 5. He got about halfway through his bullpen and had to walk off because his leg grabbed at him. A little different spot, his adductor. So we thought it was in our best interests, and I thought talking to the trainers and the doctors, if we could give him a couple of extra days he might be able to get through that series. He didn’t throw a light bullpen until Wednesday because we were fearful.
“The last time Andy walked off a bullpen, it became a couple of weeks. If I only had Andy for one game in that playoff, I was willing to take the risk to make sure he was healthy. In talking to doctors, trainers, our staff, Cash, we thought we had to give him those two extra days. Andy had some leg problems down the stretch, he had some back issues. It was unfortunate and he pitched a great game.”
Yankee fans are already wondering if Pettitte, 38, will return next season or if his 16th season in the big leagues was his last. Pettitte went 11-3 this season with a 3.28 ERA, so he can obviously still get hitters out. He only started 21 games, though, his lowest big-league total with the exception of 2004 when he had elbow surgery.
The veteran left-hander’s ability to take the ball every five days has to be a consideration in whether he retires or not, and if he does decide to come back, it has to play a role in how much the Yankees are willing to pay him.