New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte Passes First Test with Ankle, Anxious to Return

Doug RushSenior Analyst IAugust 30, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees stands on the mound he is checked on after he was hit with a batted ball in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on June 27, 2012  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Yankees got great news in Andy Pettitte's quest to return to the team.

The 40-year-old threw off flat ground at Yankee Stadium, throwing three sets of 20 pitches, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

In the final set, Pettitte threw from his normal windup and looked good, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

“For two of the sessions, he did not push off much,” Girardi said. “In the last session, he basically did 10 or 12 pitches where it was his normal windup. He actually looked really good.”

What was really encouraging for Pettitte was on Wednesday, he woke up and reported no pain in his ankle, so the Yankees move on to the next step.

The next test now according to Girardi will be putting Pettitte on a mound and testing his ankle to really gauge how it will hold up. The team would like to see him throw off a mound in a bullpen session this weekend during their series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Pettitte has been out with a fractured fibula since June 27 after taking a line drive off his ankle from the bat of Casey Kotchman.

The original timetable for Pettitte's recovery was six to eight weeks, and we have approached the ninth week of Pettitte on the sideline.

While the team was in Seattle against the Mariners, Pettitte suffered a setback in his recovery when his ankle swelled up, which forced the team to shut Pettitte down for a few days, a setback that cost him around seven to 10 days of potential rehab time.

Pettitte said his arm feels really good, but because he hasn't pitched off a mound yet, he hasn't gotten his legs strong enough to gauge how well he can push off on a mound.

With the minor-league season concluding soon, Pettitte could make rehab starts in simulated games if needed for the Yankees.

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, the Yankees left-hander would like to make at least two starts in September in order to get himself ready for October.

While Pettitte has been on the DL, the Yankees have used Freddy Garcia and David Phelps in the rotation and they have been able to hold their own in starts.

But in the playoffs, the Yankees know they are going to need Pettitte if they want to win in October. It's the main reason why they brought him out of retirement and signed him to a $2.5 million deal back in March.

With a little over a month left in the season, the Yankees need to start figuring out when they can expect Pettitte to return to the Bronx.

The team is holding onto dear life of their grasp on the AL East division and getting Pettitte back in the rotation would not only help their efforts to win the division, but securing a playoff spot in general.

All eyes are focused on Pettitte's ankle this weekend and everyone is hoping for another step in the right direction towards a return to the team.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.